“The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
Two of the most tragic deceptions ever foisted upon mankind, is that a) it’s not our fault, and b) that we can fix ourselves. In fact, every belief system outside of the true Christian faith, to one degree or another, plays off one or the other. The Christian faith, however, lays the blame solely on our sinful nature, and on our inability to fix ourselves, by ourselves…which is why the world hates Christianity, and to an even greater degree, Jesus Christ.
When Jesus began His ministry at the age of 30, He began to challenge the religious and moral authorities of His time. He stated that adultery wasn’t just the actual physical act itself, but that the intentions of the heart (i.e., lust) were equally culpable. Murder wasn’t just the act itself, but equally damning was the seed of hate that first takes root in the human heart. Likewise, it wasn’t what a man put into his mouth that corrupted him, but what came out, because that came from the heart, and the heart was corrupted. In other words, Christ had the audacity to call sin for what it was, a heart problem, and the Pharisees and the Sadducees killed Him for it. They killed Him because it removed our ability to remedy the sin situation through religious piety, which was their livelihood.
Each of us (myself included), are flawed, and miserable creatures outside of God’s redemptive grace and mercy. We start off in a state of untested innocence, not understanding the ways of the world. As we grow up, we start off with high aspirations of becoming something grand and noble. Most of us end up becoming something we never intended, but whether we reach our goals, or we settle for something else, we all struggle with the inner ‘man’, because the inner man cannot find peace in the prospective paths we go. While money, wealth, power, sex, drugs, pleasure, etc., might make our time here on earth more enjoyable, they cannot fill the void in our hearts...which yearns to be redeemed and reconciled by our Creator. But whether we find success, failure, or simply compromise, in the end, the world will have what’s due it and will find a way to corrupt us.
It is in our misunderstanding of sin, that we mischaracterize the nature of it. Pride is the heavyweight of all sins, and it affects everyone to one degree or another. We might think, that no matter how bad we have it…at least we aren’t like so and so over there. It was pride that first corrupted Lucifer, the chief of all creation prior to mankind, who thought he deserved a promotion. (Isaiah 14:12-21; Ezekiel 28:11-19) Even though pride affects us all, the successful are far more susceptible to its damning charms.
These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren Proverbs 6:16-19
So egregious is the severity of the nature of our sinful state that God has done everything within His power, in accordance with His mandate of our freewill, to prevent us from dying in our sins. He removed Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, to prevent them from ever eating from the Tree of Life while in a state of sinfulness. He did this, because that is the same condition, that those who die in sins find themselves in once they enter eternity. Always dying, but never able to die. As Paul put it in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, that these shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
Everlasting means forever, while destruction is associated with a one-time event…such as a building being destroyed. It’s only destroyed once unless it’s rebuilt. But something that is being eternally destroyed, is constantly being in a state of destruction. This makes me wonder if perhaps, this is why Satan introduces the Nephilim into the world through the intermingling of the fallen angels with human women, not only so he could corrupt mankind genetically, but also, to create beings who were powerful enough to get back into the garden so that man could have access to the Tree of Life again and be doomed forever?
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Gen. 3:22-24
So let us set aside all pretenses, and admit something upfront…we all struggle with sin. I struggle with mine, and you with yours. We all have a tendency to go through seasons if you will, of when we seemingly have it altogether…and at other times, not so much. A good analogy would be to say that as born-again believers, each of our paths in life, takes us up-stream in a world that is flowing in the other direction towards a waterfall, which spills over the rocks of eternity, into the lake of fire. Were it not for Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross of Calvary, we would all be heading there.
But, as Christians, we trudge along, and often, we slip and go under. Either we are trying to get up and work our way back to fellowship with God, or we allow ourselves to be carried along with the undercurrents of this dark river. Admittedly, it is much easier to allow the river to simply carry us in the direction it wants to take us and we needn’t do anything but allow the comforting dark waters to carry us where it wants to take us. But while the waters are calm on the surface, the undertow is vicious and unforgiven.
What that means for believers, is that we are tethered to God the Father through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, and the permanent sealing by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 5:19-21; Eph. 1:11-14, 4:30) So we couldn’t go over the waterfall, but that’s not to say, we couldn’t be carried downstream and bounce off some rocks along the way. That was never God’s intention. We know that in our flesh, we are weak. In Paul’s flesh, he was weak. So if he was weak, I’m pretty sure I am (and you) are going to struggle along the way.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. Romans 7:14-20
So man is made up of three parts; body, soul, and spirit. (1 Thess. 5:23) The spirit, when revived through salvation, is brought to life. But the spirit is still encased in this body (the tent), we inhabit while in this existence. The soul then (the heart/mind), is that which becomes the battleground for which is carried out, the actions of the flesh. This is what Christ pinpointed as the problem. Where salvation through Jesus Christ corrects the spirit, by reviving that which was dead, sanctification, is where man seeks to reconcile his fellowship with God. We can’t add one iota to our salvation through our works (Hebrews 10:10-14), but our works become instrumental in what we do (or don’t do) for God while in this life. (Titus 3:1-8; 1 Cor. 3:9-15)
So let us not make the mistake of confusing our works because of salvation, for the gift of salvation. If saved, our salvation is secure in Christ’s finished work on the cross. But as the river analogy goes, we aren’t built to stay where we were, but to move forward against the flow, and to press onward toward the prize (Phil. 3:14).
Ultimately, all believers have one goal in life, and that is till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— (Eph. 4:13-15)
This then becomes our aim while in this life. We aim to be Christ-like, not trusting in our flesh to accomplish anything, but resting in His finished work, which makes our struggle moving upstream, more of holding on to that tether, rather than walking in our own power. But that is for this life. For the next, we have the threefold reasons why we must be changed when we are brought back to God through the Rapture.
The Church is being built by Christ, for a specific purpose, and is not destined for God’s wrath, thus, is excluded from the time and the place of the 70th Week of Daniel…all seven years of it. (Rev. 3:10, 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9, John 14:1-3)
When God the Father triggers the time for judgment, He recalls the Holy Spirit, who brings with Him, those He has sealed. (2 Thess. 2:7-8; Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:21-22) Remember, the removal of the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean that He still can’t be here working, only that His mission has changed. Much the same way that in Acts. 2, the Holy Spirit was given…even though the Holy Spirit was very much active on earth prior to the day of Pentecost.
The Rapture is meant to purify the Church, the bride of Christ, through the physical transformation of both the living and the dead. The living is transformed from mortal, to immortal, and the dead, are transformed from being bodily naked, to being given their permanent bodies. (2 Cor. 5:1-5)
So be of good cheer as we navigate the dark waters of our hearts, and of this world. You do not walk alone. We need not lean on our own understanding, or in our own efforts, but in Christ’s. He has done all the heavy lifting (yoke easy, burden light), and we simply need to trust that He is able to save us to the uttermost and to watch, and wait for Him to return, as promised.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:50-58
Even So, Maranatha!