Embracing Grace: A Discerning Heart, Part 2

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 76

Scripture:  2 Kings 5:1-15a; Romans 3:3-4; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 23:27; Psalm 199:160; Exodus 20:20; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 11:2-3; Ephesians 5:25-27.

The Heligan Gardens, U.K. Public Domain.

Every evil that has filled men or befallen mankind may be traced back to one event in history. It was on that day in The Garden, when Adam and Eve chose to close their eyes to Truth and disobey the One who created them, that our intimate fellowship with God was broken.

It stands to reason then that to return to our original purpose on earth, we must do so with open eyes fixed on Truth. We begin this journey by accepting the blood of the Lamb as covering for our sin nature.

Pursuit of the knowledge of good and evil has haunted us since that fateful day in The Garden. History books are replete with examples. The merest glimpse reveals this pursuit. It may be seen in Pilate’s statement of 2,000 years ago, “What is truth?” when he interrogated Jesus. It is seen in the exponential growth of the hunt for secret knowledge (Gnosticism) in these last days.

Whether or not we want to admit it, our core essence hungers to know Truth.

The problem comes when we want to know Truth on our terms. I know this statement is a dichotomy because Truth, by His very nature, cannot change. So what we really are doing when we insist on having Truth our way is the living of a hybrid life, rather than life by God’s original design which is a union of the spirit of God with man. Instead, it is a shrewd twisting which incorporates elements of Truth with existential deceit.

According to the Collins English Dictionary, existentialism is “a modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands that they make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe.”1 The word originates from German, Existentialismus, and ultimately, from Danish writer Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855.)2

Existentialism is just a fancy way of saying that we choose to define life our way, rather than God’s way. Frank Sinatra was famous for singing “I did it My Way.”

Trinity Church Cemetery at Broadway and Wall Street, NYC. Photo courtesy of Gryffindor / CC By-Sa 3.0

Incidentally, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Kierkegaard literally means “churchyard.”3 The churchyard of his day was a cemetery. What happens when we try to live Truth on our terms is the subtle yet distinct lifting up of the human soul over divine God. Instead of God being true and all men liars, we become the authority.

What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.4

When we become the authority, our hearts are darkened. Instead of housing the Spirit of God, we become well-groomed churchyards, cemeteries, pretty on the outside but dead inside. We become whitened sepulchres full of dead men’s bones.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything impure.5

Cesky Krumlov. Photo courtesy of Petr Kratochvil. Public Domain.

Modern Christianity in the Western World is rife with error because men have decided that they know better than Truth. The isms of society have infiltrated and infected our walk to the point that we many times unwittingly participate in heresy. When our hearts harden toward God and we choose to embrace heresy rather than humble ourselves, the end result is that we call good evil and evil good. And as our hearts are lifted up in the pride of self worth, we are blinded to Truth.

Why?

Because we have left our first love in favor of a social gospel?  Maybe. But I would like to suggest another deeper reason. It is because we have grown tired of The Word, which IS Truth. Perhaps it is because God didn’t “perform” to our expectations. For all appearances, we look clean on the outside. We look “Christian.” But secretly in our hearts, we are now pursuing that which tickles our senses.

Truth is eternal, unchanging. Truth is a person. Truth is God. If we want to know God, it must be on His terms. If we truly want to become holy, it must be His way. “Your Word is Truth”6 is not just a statement of altruism. His Word IS Truth. The only way to know Truth is to know Him, and not just His works, but His ways. Scripture says that God spoke to Moses as to a friend, because Moses knew Him. When you know someone, you know more than just the acts the person does. You know their mannerisms, their habits, what they mean when they say just one word. You know their ways.

If I want to live a holy life, I must live The Word.

If I want to live the Word, I must memorize the Word.

If I want to memorize the Word, I must meditate on the Word.

If I want to meditate on the Word, I must read the Word. And read it again. And again.

And again.

Scripture says that Moses told the people “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”7

Photo courtesy of Photos8.com.

When we keep the Fear of God before us we will not sin.8 We do this by keeping our eyes on Him.

Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.9

It’s really quite simple, the gospel.

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.10

Egret at Iguazú falls. Photo public domain.

Like Naaman of old, we need to humble ourselves at the river Jordan. We need to wash in the water of The Word. We need to let The Word do its job, to cleanse us from spiritual leprosy and make us clean.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, That He might present the church to Himself in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things [that she might be holy and faultless].11

My life transforms in the the image of Christ when I behold Him, when I place the fear of the Lord first before the eyes of my spirit.

Read: 2 Kings 5:1-15a; Romans 3:3-4; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 23:27; Psalm 199:160; Exodus 20:20; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 11:2-3; Ephesians 5:25-27. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, may Your name be lifted higher in my life as I fix my eyes on You. You lifted me out of the pit and set me upon Your mountain in Your presence. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit. You are worthy of all praise and honor and glory, in Jesus’ name, amen.

__________________

1existentialism. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/existentialism (accessed: May 21, 2011).
2existentialism. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.com/browse/existentialism (accessed: May 21, 2011).
3existentialism. Dictionary.com. Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/existentialism (accessed: May 21, 2011).
4Romans 3:3-4. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
5Matthew 23:27. Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
6From Psalm 199:160 and John 17:17. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
7Exodus 20:20. Emphasis mine. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
8The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of true knowledge and wisdom. It is to hate evil, pride, arrogance, and the evil way and perverse mouth. Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7, 28-30; 2:4-6 8:12-14; 9:9-11; 14:27; 15:32-33; 16:5-7; 19:22-24; 22:3-5; 23:16-18; Psalm 19:9; 111:10; Isaiah 11:1-4 (of Jesus); Isaiah 33:5-7; Acts 9:30-32.
9Acts 9:31. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.nelsonbibles.com
102 Corinthians 11:2-3. Emphasis mine. Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
11Ephesians 5:25-27. Emphasis mine. Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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One Response to Embracing Grace: A Discerning Heart, Part 2

  1. Mary Arima says:

    Great entry! The longer I live, the more I come to understand how important “knowing The Word” is as a Christian! It really IS everything — how can one call him/herself “Christian” if they don’t TRULY know Christ, as HE defines Himself? 🙂 Lots of great food for thought here!!! Thanks!!!