Sunday, June 24, 2012

Condemnation and Consequence

When Cyril opened the floor last week and asked me what conundrum I was having with the lesson he was teaching in Romans 8, I responded out of a pain and fear founded in my own sin. The LORD has since shown me that. So this is going to be an act of contrition before my brothers and sisters, and I pray to God that the act not only brings healing to me, but to everyone who hears this, to His honor and glory alone. Amen.

I spoke with my father about these things last week, and among the many things he said to me, this sticks out as most pertinent--he said, "From Satan's temptation of Jesus, we see that God's Word says a lot of things, and a person can go too far with any of those things if they do not take in the whole counsel of Scripture."

This was my primary error. My fear led me to find scripture which supported my fear, and the result left holes, which would lead to the truth--but only once they were filled in.

Another thing he said to me was about having recently spoken to a family friend, who is both known for her powerful prayer life and has been close to us from before I was born. They hadn't spoken in many years, and he was telling her about my son and his condition. Immediately this woman said to him, "Oh that has nothing to do with your grandson. That's just the LORD getting your son's attention."

When I consider, for even a moment, that God would use such a method, impacting one He has placed in my care in such a hard way, just to get the attention of the wretched, foolish likes of *me*, that opens floodgates of grief. I would that no one suffer even in a small way for me, but to be unable to speak... I beg the LORD for mercy for my son.

In the book of Romans last week, we learned of God's mercy to those who are in Christ Jesus. I'll quickly read the first 8 verses, which our fellowship seemed to immediately grasp, while I epicly failed at life in the same effort...

Romans 8:1-8

1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

  • We understand from verse 1 that the promise of no condemnation has the condition of being only for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • We understand from verse 4 that those that are in Christ Jesus are those who live in accordance with the Spirit.
  • We understand from verse 5 that those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

 The third point is crucial. It is not the carnally minded who receive the mercy of no condemnation, but the Spiritually minded. A carnal mind is the seat of human desire and the best it has to offer, all *our* reasoning, *our* wisdom, *our* seeking and striving. It means literally that the minding of the flesh and the pursuit of all fleshly ends not only terminates in death, but *is* death.

The Greek word translated in Scripture as death, "thanatos", has four definitions. The second is a metaphor, meaning "the loss of that life which alone is worthy of the name, the misery of the soul arising from sin, which begins on earth but lasts and increases after the death of the body in hell." So the carnal mind only just barely resembles life. Such a person, while walking and talking, only *seems* to live. There is a line from the movie "The Shawshank Redemption", where Morgan Freeman is told by the main character, "Get busy living, or get busy dying". The carnally minded person, the one focusing on the things of this world, all which the flesh lusts after and takes pride in, is busy dying. This makes a lot of sense when we consider that the Master, who told His followers to deny themselves, describes Himself as "the Way, the Truth, and the Life". If Jesus does not own us as our Lord and Savior, we have no true Life, and are only busy dying. There is therefore no difference between the carnally minded person and a corpse according to the only definition that matters; Jesus.

Yet to be Spiritually minded, to walk after the Spirit of our Savior and LORD, is life and peace. This is what it means to be *in* Christ Jesus and thereby receive no condemnation.

We have a new covenant, wrought by God's mercy and the obedience of His Son unto rejection, suffering, death on the cross, and ressurection, but I hope to present, in a way which makes some sense to us, the reality of what the Word tells us of God's hatred and burning anger for sin, as well as its consequences, which I tried to emphasize, a point which, through my expressed fear and ignorance, became drowned, or at least badly dilluted. I need this continuously reinforced, because last week I was speaking out of fear of the habitual sin I found in my life when the LORD permitted my eyes to be open and look upon it with such terrifying clarity. I matched it up with what the Word says are the attributes of one who has been born again, of not just the things he or she now does, but what he or she does not do any longer. It frightens me to shaking, and helps me understand why David said in Psalm 51 that his sin was ever before him.

Nathan told David that God had put away David's sin out of his own sight, so that David would not receive condemnation for it. But closer examination showed that, while this was true, someone very dear to him directly and immediately paid the ultimate price for what the king had done.

2 Samuel 12:7-14

7And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;8And I gave thee thy master's house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 9Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. 13And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. 14Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die

Were we to read the preceding chapter, we would learn that Joab, who commanded David's army once the king took the advice to remain home and not become a target for their remaining enemies, in attempting to obey David's command to put Uriah on the front lines and leave him to die, had to do something foolish to make it happen. He had to expose Uriah and the men who were with him to the archers on the walls closer than was necessary, so that a lot of men, including Uriah, were killed when the defenders of the city took the bait and came out from behind the walls to kill them. This was looked upon as a success by the Ammonites, so they could look at the slaughter of the servants of David their enemy as a reason to uplift and magnify their idols over the Living God, and we know from the very first of the 10 commandments how much God hates it when people magnify anything above Himself. This fully explains verse 14, "But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." Also, because King David had done such a wicked thing, God would not have it known that a man would sit upon the throne of His people and go unpunished in his wickedness.

So David's son did not die to pay the blood debt for David's sin; he did not become a propitiation--he died as a consequence for the way in which that sin caused the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme against Him. This should serve as impetus, and *drive* us to put the carnal mind, our *selves* to death everyday and give it no opportunity to come back hungering to consume our Spiritual minds from the inside and leave us numb and cauterized. Yes, we have received mercy from our God. Yes, we are not condemned for our sin. BUT THE COST! The unimaginable *cost* our Master paid, and the *consequences* that bring suffering to others, most of whom we love enough to have our hearts rent to shreds if we but realized it, should drive us to seek to walk in the Spirit without failure and deny the flesh. I accept from the scriptural evidence that as humans beings in this life we will at times fail in that purpose, but *accepting that it will happen frees us neither from responsibility nor ourselves and others from terrible consequence. Accepting that we will sin, and being grateful for the mercy we have received as His slaves, is not absolution of its consequences. As followers of Jesus, we are not permitted to think of our probability to fail as an *option* to fail. I can't speak for anyone here, but I know I have seen that being done in my life. I have relied too much upon the news that there is grace tied to me to keep me from falling.

God forbid it.

We don't pay the price for the sin, but we are still responsible for what are often the brutal, permanent consequences. David pleads for purging with hyssop in Psalm 51, because despite the removal of his condemnation, his guilt remained. He pleads for God to create a clean heart in him, using the same word in Hebrew used in Genesis 1:1. The word "create" is *only* applied to an act of God. In the Hebrew language, no man has the power to create *anything*, only God can create the clean heart that David and all of us require. I can commit no act that brings cleanliness, I can only show fruit (evidence) that comes from a heart made clean by our Master.

If I am still sinning habitually, what does that show evidence of?

Have mercy, O God.

Here was another part of my error last week before our fellowship: While I never presumed that anything I could do would make me at all worthy of the grace and mercy shown to me, or even that such an act would come from *me*, I expected, in the face of my horror at realizing the sin in my life, to be granted the grace to obey the LORD in everything; a thing just as impossible as causing a blind man to see, or a dead man to get up and walk out of his tomb, or a man lame for nearly 40 years to get up and start walking. I wanted grace to make amends and show I am sorry as something for our God to consider as He considers me. But I can do nothing. Nothing! I will live my life in living sacrifice to Him, but only because JESUS DID EVERYTHING. I failed to see and fully accept this. One of our sisters in this fellowship told me, when I breached this subject before her, that to dwell on the seriousness of sin in the way I was could lead to depression, and while I did not want to hear that, she was right, because to deal with the truth of the problem without the truth of the solution would surely kill me. I have no power to bear such a weight. None of us have such capability; it is a thing which only God could accomplish, and He did it through His Son Jesus.

David did not hope at any point to be able to somehow make some amend for what he had done, but sought the mercy of the LORD from that moment until the end of his life. This entire experience broke him, and the consequences of that one moment of yielding to lust and murder wrought sin and death all around him right into his old age. The moment Nathan left the king's court and returned home, the LORD struck the child. David hoped for what he identified as an undeserved gift, *grace*, and he did not receive it from the LORD. Many years afterward, as David is fleeing for his life from his son Absalom, a man from the house of Saul came out of a place David was passing and started pelting him with stones and cursing him, accusing him of shedding the blood of Saul's house as the reason for his current distress. When one of David's servants asked the king to let him remove the man's head for him, David said, "Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today."

Those words came from a man who understood the true magnitude, volume and weight, of his sin, even as one who had not only repented of it, but was immediately told upon repenting that he would receive no condemnation for it by the mercy of God. That moment of adultery and murder was catasprophic to his entire house, and being forgiven in no way changed the fact that he had to live with the awful consequences of what he had done, even to the point of watching people he dearly loved be humiliated and die; sons, daughters, concubines, soldiers.

Check this out. We have David confessing that his sin was ever before him in Psalm 51. When we couple that with the fact that from the moment he first stood on the balcony and observed Bathsheba, until the moment Nathan said to him, "You are that man", he appeared to have no such awareness of his sin at all, we end up with a frightening indicator of the depth with which sin will infect and atrophe our innermost parts, even within a man whose heart was described as after God's own.

That truth is harsh and gives me pause, in that a man after God's own heart can have his senses dulled by a strong enough dose of lust and pride, unless and until such time as God points out to him what is right there, lurking within his own chest.

2 Kings 21:1-15

We learn here of another king who sat on David's throne and made a byword out of himself, his sins were so heinous. He did not just sin against the LORD himself, he led all of Judah to do it with him by his example as king.

1Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hephzibah. 2And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, after the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. 3For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. 5And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 7And he set a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the LORD said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: 8Neither will I make the feet of Israel move any more out of the land which I gave their fathers; only if they will observe to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them. 9But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel.
10And the LORD spake by his servants the prophets, saying, 11Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols: 12Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. 13And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. 14And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; 15Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.

I read this, and a part of me wants to say that this is just what God did to Israel and has nothing to do with us. A closer look, though, at what God did to Jerusalem here forces me to remember the blood which these United States of America spills, of children--by the thousands, every single day, without even giving them the dignity of calling them children--"Unwanted Fetal Tissue". Curtains and piped in music drown out the sounds of slaughter.

We must think that the God that is the same, yesterday, today, and forever, has changed; that the new covenant given to us through His Son changes all of this, or that we are somehow afforded more mercy as a nation in surpassing the blood spilled by the nations God exterminated in the land promised to His people.
As we hold our place in 2 Kings, please permit me to read a few important verses about Manasseh in 2 Chronicles 33.

10And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. 11Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.

 Sounds like repentance and mercy, yes? His face must have looked a little different from having what was likely a really bad nose piercing, as Manasseh's nose was pierced with a ring to lead him about like an animal when he was caught in the bushes and hooked and bound, but he abased himself before God. He was moved by Manasseh's pleas, so that the king was released and returned to Jerusalem. But did this constitute forgiveness?

Let's look at 2 Kings 24:1-4 at what occurs in the time of Manasseh's great-great grandson.

1In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him. 2And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets. 3Surely at the commandment of the LORD came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; 4And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.

Consequence. Manasseh is forgiven because he repents. But the entire nation sinned along with him, and they did not repent, nor, as the Scripture says, was God willing to forgive them for the blood shed by those who imitated Manasseh.

Jeremiah was tasked with telling the people of Judah about the coming judgment of God for their sins in following Manasseh's practices, and what God speaks through His prophet is absolutely terrifying. In Jeremiah 14:10 - Jeremiah 15:6, we read of God's wrath against the unrepentant, habitual sins of idolatry and murder in his people Judah.

10Thus saith the LORD unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore the LORD doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit their sins. 11Then said the LORD unto me, Pray not for this people for their good. 12When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and an oblation, I will not accept them: but I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence.

13Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place. 14Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. 15Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say, Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed.16And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

17Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.

18If I go forth into the field, then behold the slain with the sword! and if I enter into the city, then behold them that are sick with famine! yea, both the prophet and the priest go about into a land that they know not.

19Hast thou utterly rejected Judah? hath thy soul lothed Zion? why hast thou smitten us, and there is no healing for us? we looked for peace, and there is no good; and for the time of healing, and behold trouble!

20We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee.

21Do not abhor us, for thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.

22Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.

 Chapter 15

1Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.
2And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.
3And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith the LORD: the sword to slay, and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the earth, to devour and destroy. 4And I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem.
5For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
6Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Throughout these verses, Jeremiah is pleading with God. Do not abhor us for Thy Name's sake. Break not thy covenant with us. God's response? Not even if Moses and Samuel together pleaded your case. You will be tossed in one of four dust bins: one for outright death, one for death by the sword, one for death by starvation, and one for being taken captive. Why? "...because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem." When God says, "I am weary of repenting" here, it means He is done delaying punishment. It means He has delayed punishment, in mercy, over and over and over again, and it has yielded no fruit of repentance, so He is not doing it anymore. It means He is done withdrawing punishment. It is what I used to hear from my father when he had a belt strap in his hands and he was tired of talking to me, done with trying to spare me and him both the punishment my actions warranted, but I abused his mercy and failed to learn the easier way.

This is still consequence. We see punishment for unforgiven sin of the people whom Manasseh led astray, and they are responsible for it, but it remains the direct consequence of the actions of Manasseh.
This is what I, and anyone else who examines themselves and finds repetitive sin in our lives, must understand. Our covenant of forgiveness, contingent upon our remaining in Him, walking in the Spirit and not the flesh, must in no way presume that the amazing grace of God, which frees us who are in Christ Jesus from condemnation of eternal death, also frees us and others from consequence. The consequences affect us, and our spouses, and our children, and do so after we have taken our last breath. We remain responsible for what we have done, and we must allow that fact to keep us sober. Humble. Repentant. As we must accept the fact of our failure, we must also accept that the inability of David to look away from his sin is itself a mercy of God, as the very memory of the devastation which walking in the carnal mind has wrought, in all its concussive waves of sin and death, helps us rivet our focus upon the desires of the Spirit. It must be ever before us, and that presence of sharp memory must be part of the process of being having the mind renewed/ The sharp memory of exactly how the vomit burned in my throat and skull cavity must help provide impetus to never even think of going back to it. Do you think that nose ring, which likely had a rope or chain attached to it like the ones put in the noses of bulls to control them when they are pulled on, helped Manasseh remember that the LORD is God?

I should think so.

May it please God that we not trample on His grace and mercy to us, that in the midst of our correct thanksgiving and worship of Him for removing the wages of our transgression from us, we always remember that the consequences are devastating to all whom we love.


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