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Archive for March, 2014

Without thinking, many times I’ve assumed that I knew the meaning of a word when I actually only understood it in a general sense. The difference can sometimes be important.

An old Webster’s dictionary states that sin is “an offense against God,” and a “misdeed, or fault.” That definition seems to convey the idea that sin is harmful to others, and to God. That is how life actually is, though only God is aware of all the repercussions of our actions. Only God can rightly define sin.

A Webster’s from a later date defines sin as “the breaking of religious law or a moral principle, especially through a willful act.” That definition isn’t quite so good, because people invent all kinds of conflicting “religious” and “moral” rules. The religious leaders of the day called Jesus a sinner (ref. the ninth chapter of John, esp. 9:24,25) though he was actually God in human form. Sin distorts our view others, ourselves, and God.

The same dictionary gives a definition of “innocence,” as “freedom from guilt or sin, especially through lack of knowledge of evil.” That’s a pretty good definition, but innocence is another word with many shades of meaning. It doesn’t mean a total absence of¬†potential for sin. Webster’s gives the origin as the Latin word “nocere.” By attaching the prefix “in,” the literal meaning becomes “without harm.” “Nocere” means “to harm,” and is related to “gnosis,” the Greek word for knowledge. Knowledge is a tool often used in harmful ways.

Before going any further, I want to say that I’m afraid we sometimes try to define words and doctrines to such length that we unintentionally hinder the Lord’s desire. When there is so much fine print, the most important meanings can sometimes be overlooked. I don’t want to minimize the importance of correct doctrine, but interpretations of Bible doctrine cannot take the place of Jesus. Jesus is alive, and he is the savior.

I am sure that God had given Adam and Eve a high level of intelligence before they ate from the tree of knowledge, but there was an absence of guile. Now our world has become one great altar of the innocent. The innocent seem to get caught in the middle of everything, and even though God extends special grace to them, they yet suffer along with the guilty. They are dragged into the guilt.

God is often blamed for the suffering of the innocent, but the evils of this world are caused by the freewill of man, and not the ill will, or non-existence of God. We abuse our freedom of will in every way imaginable, and then blame God for failing to prevent us. Sometimes God, who is guilty of nothing, does interfere with us, and then we blame him for interfering.

Although we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, and God has made all of us of one blood (Acts 17:26), a divisive force called sin separates us from one another, and from God. A person who has wronged someone will often try to avoid that person due to feelings of guilt, even if the injured party is seeking reconciliation. If the offending party feels no guilt, that makes reconciliation even more difficult. If the truth were told, most often there’s enough guilt for everyone to share.

Obviously, man is not “good enough” to inhabit a perfect world for eternity. For a heaven to exist for us, God must alter (altar) the physics of our very being. We must be given a new “heart,” and even a new body (1st. Corinthians 15:40-57), or we would spoil paradise just as quickly as did Adam and Eve. The teaching of evolution is that the suffering and sacrifice of the innocent will continue so long as life exists, but the Bible predicts a very different future.

The day of at-one-ment has not yet been realized in the physical world, but the Lord who knows the potential of every child, and the secrets of every soul, has become the sacrifice of the atonement. The idea of the world being “as one,” was first the dream of God himself, and it is the height of vanity for us to imagine that we can achieve this without God and Christ. There is not only sky above us, but also the living God, who has shed his own innocent blood for us. Only he can deliver us into lasting communion.

To repeat something said in an earlier post; Noah was told (Genesis 6:14) to pitch the ark inside and out with pitch (Hebrew “kopher”), a substance formed along with tar (ref. my preceding post). You can see in that word the origin of our words, “coffer,” and “cover.” Noah’s ark was the only vessel to carry survivors to safety in the new, post-flood, world. In other cases, forms of the word are translated as “ransom,” or used in speaking of sin that has been purged, and as the name for the golden cover of the ark of the covenant (the mercy seat). The same basic Hebrew word (kaphar), is used for that which is known as the sacrifice of the atonement (at-one-ment).

Can God “cover” us within, and without, so that we can be “one,” and our sin become as if it had never been? Paul, in Galatians 2:20, speaks of himself as being crucified with Christ, and yet living, and Christ living within him. I think that God would experience a “crucifixion” just by living with man, and certainly by coming to live “within” us. Colossians 3:3 says of the believer, “For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” No matter how wild the storms may grow, those who are “in Christ” are ultimately as safe as Noah and his family were in the ark.

God has become one with us in the suffering of this world. The innocent, and the forgiven, will someday live in at-one-ment with God in a world far beyond the reach of suffering (John 3:16). The physics of the atonement are a mystery, but the existence of sacrificial love helps us to believe in it. People who love each other must believe in each other, and because of our human weakness, we must sometimes believe in something beyond each other.

P.S. ¬† I’ve tried retyping a section of the text of this post where the font size appears different. It will not come out right, no matter what I try. I will have to leave it as it is.

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