Blood and Water

As I was mulling over the title for this post, I was not thinking of 1 John 1, though I did think of it immediately after.  The title comes from the two items in the courtyard of the tabernacle:  the bronze altar and the laver.  It is these I was thinking about with the title.  In our last post, we talked about entering the courtyard, something there’s no evidence that the ordinary Israelite could do.  He had business at the bronze altar if he had a sacrifice, and he could probably see the bronze laver, but he couldn’t approach it.

We want to look more closely at these two items ourselves as we journey inward.

The Bronze Altar

In Leviticus 1, we read part of God’s instruction to Moses about the various sacrifices:

“If his offering is a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.  Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.  He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting,” Leviticus 1:3-6 NKJV.

By the way and simply because I’ve heard it used like this:  the expression his free will” is not making a doctrinal statement about man’s will; it simply means that the offering was voluntary, as opposed to those offerings which were required.

These verses tell us that the one bringing the sacrifice was not a passive onlooker to what was going on, but he was an active participant.  At the least, he had to put his hand on the head of the animal being sacrificed, and the text reads as though he had to kill it, v. 4.  The text down through v. 8 indicates he might also have had parts in the other proceedings.  We’ll stay with some thoughts about v. 4.

He put his hand on the head of the animal.  Doing so, the man was identifying with the animal as the one atoning for the man’s sin.  The man was saying, in effect, “I deserve to die, but you are taking my place.  You are my substitute.”

He also, it seems, had to kill the animal.  In this, the man was saying, “I’m killing you; my sin is killing you.  You are my sacrifice.”

Substitution.

Sacrifice.

Two essential elements in the OT sacrificial system.

Two essential elements in the death of the Lord Jesus.

I asked a fellow once, “What did Jesus do on the Cross?”

Beside the fact that Jesus died, the fellow didn’t seem to have very much idea.

The simple fact is that Christ died for sin, not His own because He had none, but for the sin of others.  He took their place.  As the animal died instead of the individual Israelite, so the Lord died in place of individual sinners.  He was their Substitute.

The Israelite was guilty of sin.  So are we, and the wages of sin is death, Romans 3:23.  The animal was sacrificed to take his place.  We are guilty of sin and death is our reward, both physically and spiritually, if we die without the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior.  We will die physically unless the Lord comes back before then.  If you’ve recently lost a loved one, I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to add to your grief.

And apart from the Lord Jesus, we are already “dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1, already “dead spiritually.”  And apart from the Lord Jesus, we are already guilty before God.  The common idea that we’ll have to wait until the Judgment to find out our “fate” is false; it’s already set – apart from the Lord Jesus:

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God, John 3:18 emphasis added.

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him, John 3:36 emphasis added.

Not “the love of God,” as so often and falsely taught today, but the wrath of God.

Only in the Lord Jesus does one have any “claim” on the love of God.  Apart from Him, there is only wrath.

Apart from the Lord Jesus, there is no hope and no future.  There is no “better place.”

He is our Substitute, our Sacrifice.

The second item of furniture in the courtyard was the laver, for the daily and continual cleansing of the priests as they went about their duties.

We, too, though forgiven, also need daily cleansing from the increasing pollution and filth of this world.  As the Israelite was made unclean just by contact with things which were unclean, so we, in contact with this world, are made unclean by its actions and philosophies and need to be cleansed.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, Acts 16:31.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

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“The Kindness of God.” Part 2: “Sin Entered.”

We began our post last time using the question in Psalm 8:4 as a starting point, what is man, that you are mindful of him?   We looked at the creation of Adam and Eve and their subsequent disobedience to a simple command of God: a single tree in the Garden is out of bounds.  And He told them why, they would die.  We discussed what that meant to them.

In this lesson, we want to look at what that means to us.

The Scripture speaks of man being created “in the image of God,” as we’ll see below, and so there are those who talk of  “the divinity of man,” and the “divine spark” in his heart that only needs to be fanned a little for man to show what a wonderful person he really is deep down inside.  This isn’t what the Scripture means.  God did not create another “god.”

B. The Condition of the Family of Adam and Eve.

In Romans 5, Paul built upon the historical fact of the Fall of our first parents in his development of its effects.  Scripture from Genesis to Revelation shows us the condition of the human family.

1.  Man is fallen naturally, Genesis 5:3.

More attention should be paid to this verse.  Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. However, Genesis 5:3 says that Adam…fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth (emphasis added).  There are those who believe that every infant is born “in the Garden,” that is, innocent and without sin.  Innocent they may indeed be of actual transgression, but, as there was never an infant born in the actual Garden, so there is no infant born without a sin nature.  It doesn’t take very long in real life for an infant to demonstrate that he is indeed a sinner, “born and bred.”  No parent ever has to teach his child to be selfish, be dishonest, to lie or to cheat.  They go astray as soon as they are born, Psalm 58:3.  There is no “divinity” in man; there is only, if I may coin a phrase, “devility.”

2.  Man is dead spiritually, Ephesians 2:1-3.

Paul described the unsaved as dead in trespasses and sins.  Clearly, this doesn’t mean non-existence or unconsciousness, as some erroneously teach about physical death.  However, spiritual death cannot be compared exactly to physical death.  A corpse is totally passive and unresponsive, seeing nothing, feeling nothing, knowing nothing and doing nothing.  It is completely indifferent to its surroundings.  It is dead.  However, according to Paul, spiritual death is a condition of separation from, rebellion against and resistance to God.

“Death” refers to both an event and to a condition.  We say, “So-and-so died,” referring to the event that ends physical life.  We say, “So-and-so is dead,” referring to the condition that results from the event.  For mankind spiritually, the event took place when Adam disobeyed God.  From that time forward, beginning with Cain and continuing down to us and our children and grandchildren, every single one of us has been born into the condition of spiritual death.  We are “born dead” spiritually as surely as we are “born alive” physically.  This condition has two elements:

a.  separation.

Physical death separates us from our family and friends; spiritual death separates us from God.  To the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote of their pre-conversion life in part as being separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12, (emphasis added).  In spite of all the religion in the world, without the Lord Jesus Christ we are all afar off from God, Ephesians 2:13.  We are dead to God.  But there is also –

b.  alienation.

Paul wrote to the church at Colosse that they once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Colossians 1:21.  In our natural state, so far from our being His children and He the Father of all mankind, as many believe, – so far from our struggling toward Him in some dim and obscure fashion, – so far from our being on one of the many roads which lead to heaven, – we are His enemies, Romans 5:10.  We have turned every one to his own way, Isaiah 53:6.  We are dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 (emphasis added).

3.  Man is dysfunctional personally. 

Another term for this is “total depravity,” which conveys an inaccurate picture.  When we think of someone who is depraved, we think of a Hitler or some vile criminal.  However, that’s not really the meaning of the word.  Even Hitler did “good” on occasion.  The word itself comes from the Latin.  “Pravus” means “bent” or “crooked,” and “de” is a particle emphasizing the meaning of the word.  So then, being “totally depraved” means that we are “thoroughly bent.”  We are dysfunctional; nothing works right.

As to his personality, man may be considered in three aspects:  mind, emotions and will.  With his mind, man thinks, reasons, understands.  With his emotions, he has feelings and desires.  With his will, he makes choices and decisions.  The Fall has affected all three of these areas, even the will.

a. the mind.

Part of our difficulty lies in the fact that we are finite, that is, mere creatures, trying to understand the works and ways of One who is infinite.  As well might an amoeba try to understand physics as for us to “understand” God.  Still, our main difficulty lies in the fact that we are fallen, sinful creatures.  Even what little we do know is messed up.  Jude wrote, whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these they corrupt themselves, Jude 10.  No part of our lives or being has escaped being “messed up” by the fallenness, the sinfulness, of man.

However, the fatal flaw lies in our lack of “spiritual” understanding.  In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul taught that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. Two things are in this verse:  1). We won’t receive the things of God because we think they’re foolish.  This refers to our attitude toward them.  2).  We can’t received the things of God because we don’t have the ability to receive them.  We are dead in regard to them.  In Romans 8:7, Paul wrote, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot (emphasis added).  “The mind set on the flesh” is another way to describe “the natural man:”  us as we’re born physically.

b.  the emotions.

Our Lord taught that men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil, John 3:19.  For the most part, man loves his sin and is quite content to remain in “darkness.”  As long as the gospel “invitation” centers on his escaping the consequences of his sin, man will listen.  “Do you want to be saved from hell?”  Of course, he does, even if he doesn’t believe such a place exists.  Folks may joke about it or use it as a swear word, but no one in their right mind wants to go there.  However, if the question is, “Do you want to be saved from your sins?” the response is usually quite different.

c.  the will.

Here’s where the controversy lies.  Many who say they believe in “total depravity” believe as well, contrary to Scripture, man is able to understand and to receive the things of God, especially salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, without or perhaps with a little grace that leaves the final choice up to man.  After all, “whosoever will.”  However, Revelation 22:17 says, And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely (KJV).  How many people out there in the world, or even in “church” for that matter, are “athirst” for the water of life?

At the same time, let us agree that man does indeed have a will.  When I say the will been affected by the Fall, I don’t mean that it has been destroyed, as some claim the doctrines of grace teach.  We make choices all the time, even about spiritual matters and about God and His Word.  Indeed, it is the choices we make that determine the kind of life we lead and the kind of person we are.  Man has a will.

The question is not whether or not we have a will, but how does it work?  In other words, how does a man or woman, boy or girl, decide something at any particular moment and in any given situation?  What “decides” the deciding?

Further, let us agree that the man or woman, girl or boy, actually makes the choice and does the acting.  We’re neither puppets or robots.  On the one hand, it’s possible to take a belief in the sovereignty of God to the point where that is what is really being said.  For example, I used to know a brother who would always say, “I was caused to believe.”  He would never say, “I believe.”  Cf. 2 Timothy 1:12.  The sovereignty of God does not negate, diminish or undermine the will of man.  On the other hand, it’s possible so to emphasize man’s will that a “No Trespassing” sign is, in effect, put up, and God can’t do anything in our lives without our permission.  Though much more prevalent, this view is as wrong as the other.

In order to understand how the will functions, look at two examples of its working:  one before the Fall, and one after.

Genesis 3:6 says, …when the woman saw that the tree was food for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…. Her mind and her emotions were both involved.  The fruit of the tree was good for food and could make one “wise.”   These appealed to her thought, her mind.  The tree was a delight to the eyes, and its fruit desired.  These appealed to her feelings, her emotions.  Based on these factors, Eve “willed,” deciding to take and eat the fruit.  Her choice did not happen by itself.  Neither do ours.

We see the other example, after the Fall, in Joshua 7, especially v. 21.  Compare the two incidents.  They are identical.

If a person is hostile toward God, thinks His Word is foolish and wants no part of righteousness, it’s unreasonable to assume that his will, his choice, is not affected and determined by these things.  As much as modern man might want it, the will is not isolated and insulated from what we are.  It’s in the same boat we are, and goes along for the ride quite “willingly.”

Beside the will does “decide,” but follow through isn’t always successful.  How many of you have decided to lose weight, or quit smoking or some other bad habit?  How about starting some good habit, like exercising or reading Scripture more faithfully or more regular prayer?  Paul knew this:  to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, I find not, Romans 7:18.

4.  Man is declared guilty judicially, John 3:18. 

In Ephesians 2:3, Paul wrote that even believers, though elect from the foundation of the world, 1:4, are by nature children of wrath, just as the others.  See also John 3:36; Romans 3:19.  There is a mistaken notion that everybody is headed for “a better place,” regardless of what kind of life was lived by the person going there, or what kind of person they were.  However, John 3:18 says of those who do not believe in Christ that they are condemned already.  We may not want to believe it, but Scripture reveals that it is already too late.  It’s too late for good works, for reformation, for turning over a new leaf!  Apart from the Lord Jesus, we’re condemned already!  It’s too late for religion, for ceremony, for good intentions.  The verdict has already been reached:  we are guilty before God and sentenced for execution.  Apart from the Lord Jesus, this life is little more than a cell on death row, and life is simply a waiting for the executioner to come and carry out the sentence.   He who does not believe is condemned already, John 3:18.

5.  Man is disapproved individually, Romans 3:10, 11. 

 It’s human nature to believe that we’re better than Scripture says we are.  After all, look at so-and-so!  The trouble is, with Scripture, we are the “so-and-so” – there is no difference…, Romans 3:22.  In the verses at the heading of this section, Paul tells us:

a.  there is none righteous.  

This means that none of us measure up to God’s holy standard, as revealed in His Word and demonstrated by the Lord Jesus.  Our very best, our “acts of righteousness,” are nothing more than filthy rags in the sight of God, Isaiah 64:6.  What must our unrighteousness be in His sight?  The term “filthy rags” refers to a menstrual cloth, or a rag that a leper might use to wipe his sores.  Not very pretty, but a graphic description of our natural state before God.

b.  there is none who understands.

“Understands” what?  Our condition before God, in contrast to His perfect holiness and righteousness.  Man can and does understand much of the world he lives in, but forgets he must answer to the One who created, sustains and governs it.

c.  there is none who seeks after God.

Because of our innate belief that “loincloths” are sufficient to cover whatever deficiencies we might have, we don’t realize that God is the only One who can do that. We don’t understand that our “answers” are all wrong!  And too often, we don’t care.  In our sinfulness, we refuse to come to God, yet He is the only One with the answer to our sin problem.

In our next post, we’ll begin to look at how He has answered it.

Questions

 1.  Whose image did Adam pass along to his children?

 2.  What is the effect of this?

 3.  What does “spiritually dead” mean?

 4.  What are the two elements of spiritual death?

 5.  What does “total depravity” mean?

 6.  How does total depravity affect our mind?

 7.  Our emotions?

 8.  Our wills?

 9.  What is our standing before God judicially?

10. What is our standing before God individually?

11. What is “righteousness”?

“The Kindness of God.” Part 1: “What is Man?”

Why “kindness”?  We’ll take a closer look at this later.  For now, consider 2 Samuel 9:3 and Ephesians 2:7.

I.  The Necessity of Grace.

Before the Renaissance, it was believed that the proper study of mankind was God.  With the Renaissance and the rise of humanism came the belief that the proper study of mankind is man.  This is alright up to a point; we should know as much about ourselves as possible, but as it has developed, too many believe that when you are studying man, you are studying God!

What does the Bible say about Man?  Why is grace necessary?  Is it necessary?  We start at the beginning.

A. The Creation and Fall of Adam and Eve, Genesis 1-3.

 Our Lord accepted the Genesis accounts of creation and the Fall as historical events.  So did Paul.  So do we.

1.   The creation of Adam and Eve, Genesis 1:26-31; 2:8-25.

We can in these lessons do little more than touch the surface.

a.  their responsibility, 1:26, 28.

They were to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; …have dominion over…every living thing that moves on the earth.  In other words, they were to explore their new home and put it to good use.  In a sinless context like the Garden, the word “dominion” carries the idea of stewardship, not “domination,” as it so often does in a sinful context, like ours.  Adam was to till the ground, not just lie around in idleness.  Even in “paradise,” there was work to do.

b. their resources, 1:29; 2:16.

They were given to eat freely of every tree in the Garden except one.  There was no miserly rationing of things they might need, but all was freely given, even access to the Tree of Life.  If they’d’ve been smart, they would have rushed right over and eaten of it.  It should have been their first meal!  Of course, they had no way of knowing the future, or what was at stake.

c.  their restriction, 2:17.

There was only one tree which they were forbidden to eat from, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This restriction served a two-fold purpose:  1).  Even though, in a sense, Adam was lord of all he surveyed, yet he was still just a creature and, as such, subject to the will of the Creator.  2).  Adam and Eve didn’t need to know about “good and evil.”  They had full access to God.  He determines what is “good,” and what is “evil.”  In their lives just now, there was no “evil.”  If there were any questions, they had only to ask Him.

2.  The conduct of Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:1-6. 

a.  they listened, vs. 1-5.

Even in the Garden, they made bad choices:  Eve to listen to the serpent, and Adam to listen to his wife.  Though perhaps humorous, this last really isn’t funny, because from these few minutes in the Garden have come millennia, indeed, even an eternity, of sin and suffering.  Notice how Satan turned the generosity of God into an intolerable restraint, implying that He was keeping something good from them.  Furthermore, he said, they wouldn’t “die” if they ate the fruit.  To the contrary, they would become like God, and by this, he implied, they wouldn’t need Him to be their moral and spiritual compass.  They could decide for themselves.

b.  they looked, v. 6.

We say, “They,” because the verse says that Adam was “with her.”  We believe he was there all the time.  She didn’t have to go looking for him.  Now, the tree looked beautiful and its fruit, she was told, was beneficial.  In her defense, Eve had no experience with deceit, it not having become part of the daily fabric of life.  So she picked a delicious-looking fruit – probably not an apple, and ate it.  Then she “shared” with Adam.

3.  The consequences to Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:7-24. 

a.  they died, (Genesis 2:17).

What does they “died” mean, since Adam lived well over 900 years outside the Garden?  Seeing this, some have looked at Psalm 90:4 and its repetition in 2 Peter 3:8, and misreading it as if it said 1000 years is one day to the Lord, have said that this is what God meant.  However, the only “day” Adam likely knew, never having read Psalm 90:4, was the “day” of 24 hours.  Besides, there is a certain immediacy in God’s warning – in the day you eat of it [the fruit], you shall surely die” that is lost if all God meant was that Adam would live less than a thousand years.

Before the Sun went down on that fateful day when they disobeyed God, Adam and Eve had died.  As we’ll see shortly, the primary effect of death is separation, and we read no more of any fellowship Adam and Eve had with God.  They were now afraid of Him and tried to hide.

b. they tried to do something about it, Genesis 3:7.

The world with its warped thought jokes about “the oldest profession in the world,” but they’re wrong.  The oldest “profession” is that of tailor.  Mankind still has no understanding of its condition before God, Romans 3:11, yet knows something is “wrong,” and so is still making “loincloths.”

c.  they shifted the blame, Genesis 3:12, 13.

Ultimately, Adam blamed God:  “the woman You gave me….”  Eve blamed the serpent. Yet the responsibility had been given to Adam to keep the Garden.  He failed in his primary responsibilities to God and to protect (another meaning of the word translated, “keep”) Eve.  After all, she was part of what God had entrusted into his keeping.

d.  their relationship were disrupted.

Their primary relationship was with God.  Before the Fall, and we don’t know how long that took, they had enjoyed fellowship with God, Genesis 3:8.  I’m sure, for example, that it was a festive occasion when God brought Eve to Adam.  However, after the Fall, there is no record that they ever again had such fellowship with God.  They were thrown out of the Garden.  They had died spiritually.

Their relationship with each other deteriorated, as well.  Gone forever was the innocence with which they had reveled in each other’s company.  I use the word “revel” deliberately.  There was no sin to cloud their happiness together; everything was perfect and holy.  We cannot imagine what it must have been like, although those who are blessed with a happy marriage have a small taste of it.  But now their memory was of what had happened – how they had failed God and each other, to say nothing of the curse under which they now lived:  evicted together from paradise, multiplied and painful child-bearing for Eve, as well as subordination to her husband, and, for Adam, increased and frustrating toil.

Paradise had truly been lost.

e.  they lost the right to eternal life, and their ability to obtain it.

Being evicted from the Garden barred them from the Tree of Life.  To make certain of that, God placed cherubim and a flaming sword in the way to prevent access to it, Genesis 3:22-24.  The lesson for them, and for us, is that if you want eternal life, you have to do something about your sin and the justice of God.  What they could have freely taken at any time before their sin was completely denied to them after it.

f.  their descendants were affected.

Though we see this relatively soon in the murder of Abel by his jealous brother Cain, we’re more concerned about descendants further along the line, like us.  What effect, if any, did the Fall have on us and our children and grandchildren?  We’ll explore the answer to this, Lord willing, in the next lesson.

Questions.

 1.  What bars man from eternal life?

 2.  Why is grace necessary?

 3.  What does “kindness” have to do with it?

 4.  Are the Biblical accounts of Creation and the Fall reliable.  Why?

 5.  What responsibility did Adam and Eve have in the Garden?

 6.  What resources?

 7.  Were there any restrictions?  Why?

 8.  What did Adam and Eve do?

 9.  What does it mean:  “they died”?

10. What other results were there from their eating the fruit?