Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.- John Owen
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if BY THE SPIRIT you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.- Romans 8:13
Jesus said that sin begins in our minds. He said that if we hate our brother then we have committed murder. If we look with lust at a woman then we have committed adultery. While these things are sins in and of themselves, it would behoove us to understand that Jesus is also saying that these thoughts will ultimately manifest themselves physically if we do not check them.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we should take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. When we don’t check our thought patterns and examine the worldviews that shape them, we are in danger of our thoughts leading to sin.
Every action first begins with our thoughts. Many times we say that we slipped into sin and often times it is true. But what of those times when one thought led to an unwise action (not particularly sin), that led to another unwise action, and so forth until… lo and behold we’re committing sin. Ashamed and with Satan accusing and laughing at us.
…sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.- Genesis 4:7
Where I’m from there is a criminal charge called ‘malice murder’. In some jurisdictions it can be called premeditated murder. It means that the suspect actually had the intention of committing the crime and made plans to carry it out. It wasn’t a ‘crime of passion’ where a person’s overwhelming emotions clouded their thoughts and in a moment lashed out. Instead it was premeditated which literally means to think out or plan beforehand.
If we are honest and think about our actions throughout the day and some of the “sins that so easily beset us”, how much of our sins are totally premeditated?
But, we may think that we don’t plan on sinning throughout the day, right? Well, say for instance that I have a drinking problem and the Holy Spirit has dealing with me to stop. But, instead, I go through a series of unwise steps that get me to the sin my flesh loves but my spirit hates.
Step 1. Go to the store.
Step 2. Pick out an alcoholic beverage.
Step 3. Pay at the cash register.
Step 4. Take the alcoholic drink home.
Step 5. Open the drink.
Step 6. Take a sip.
These steps and every sip afterward is a conscious action made. Therefore I drank because of my premeditated actions.
As far as step 1 goes, before I went to the store I first had to have the desire to drink. BEFORE step 1 is when it is vitally crucial to take that desire and crucify the flesh. Before step 1 is when it is vitally crucial to take the thought and make it captive to obedience to Christ.
Remember that one mark of a Christian is a life of repentance. A Christian can do all things through Christ who strengthens him or her. Christians are mandated to live to soberly and holy lives. We are to not be enslaved by anything and to walk according to the Spirit. We who are children of God are to walk in the light where darkness cannot hide and we are not to continue in sin. And, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.- Jesus
Philippians 4:13, Titus 2:12, 1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:16, Romans 8:17, John 1:5, 8:12; Romans 6:1, 1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1, John 16:33, Matthew 5:30, Colossians 3:1-17, Proverbs 24:16
One of the most commonly heard yet commonly misunderstood words in the Christian community is the word “gospel”. When people hear gospel they may think of a kind of music. Some who hear it think “truth”. Some hear it and equate it to the Bible but aren’t sure exactly what it means.
Then there are those that know that the word gospel means good news. They are correct. But what is it the good news of? Is it a promise of financial prosperity? Is it a promise of physical health? Is it a promise of perpetual happiness? That you’ll never experience pain or sorrow, financial trouble, or sickness? No, that’s not the Gospel of Christ.
To understand the Christian gospel, we must start way back in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve live in perfect harmony and communion with God. It is also implied that life would be everlasting in this paradise. They witness no shame. They suffer no pain. They experience no death. God in His sovereignty gave Adam and Eve the choice to obey and live forever in perfect communion with Him or to follow their own path. The instructions were clear: Enjoy everything in the garden you desire except for the fruit of that one tree. Of the day you eat of it you will surely die.
Why was the tree put there in the first place? The Bible doesn’t say specifically but I believe it was to give man the choice to obey God or disobey. God chose not to create humans as “robots” or “slaves” that had no will. But He created us as creatures that could choose Him or choose otherwise. However, since only God is good and goodness and life are only found in Him, to choose otherwise, by default, is to choose death.
This was the sin of Adam and Eve. They chose otherwise. The Adversary in the form of a serpent tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the forbidden tree. Eve offered it to her husband Adam who then ate. At that moment sin and death entered the world. Their unveiled communication with God was now wrought with shame and hiddenness.¹ The land that had once freely offered its bounty to them was now cut off from their access. By sweat and hard work was Adam to work the ground and by pain was Eve to bear children. But worst of all was the chasm that was now created between God and man. Man had been kicked out of God’s first temple (the Garden of Eden) because he failed to guard it.
Because Adam is the representation for all of man, and because all of man comes from Adam, this bad news doesn’t just apply to Adam and Eve. We all share in the curse of their disobedience. Now we have a sin nature.
Because of our sin nature, we are prone to sin. We are susceptible to sins enticement and we are slaves to sins power. This is evident because to do wrong is usually easier than to do right. Therefore, all of us sin. And because we all sin we all die. Not only is this death physical, it is spiritual. Since, our spirits are eternal then the death they experience is eternal. The death our spirits experience is unlike the death of our bodies. When our bodies die they can no longer experience what goes on around them. Spiritual death, on the other hand, is an eternity apart from God in a place the Bible calls hell; where no joy, happiness, love, or peace is found. Jesus calls it a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and where the worm does not die (Mark 9:44).
This is the bad news that must be understood and accepted before we get to the good news.
“You cannot possibly understand what the Bible says about salvation unless you understand what the Bible says about the thing from which we are saved.”- J. Gresham Machen
The good news is first told in Genesis 3:15. This protoevangelium (or first gospel) says that the serpent will bruise the heel of the Seed of the woman but the Seed will triumph by crushing the serpent’s head. However, the fulfillment of this promise would take some time.
Let’s go back to what happened in the Garden. After man and woman ate the fruit they saw they were naked. So in shame, they covered themselves with fig leaves. However, God sacrificed the first animal to cover man’s shame. In other words man’s works weren’t sufficient to cover his shame. God had to shed blood to do it.
From that moment on, sacrifices of animals without blemish were the only suitable sacrifices for sin (Lev. 17:11, Hebrews 9:22). But even these sacrifices only covered sin for a time. The sacrifice of atonement had to be done once every year by the high priest for all the people of Israel.
These sacrifices were to point to Jesus’ sacrifice. The everlasting sacrifice. Jesus lived a sinless life and was therefore without blemish. He became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross freed us from sin’s power, saved us from sin’s penalty, and rescued us from sin’s presence. He fulfilled the promise God gave to Adam and Eve. Satan bruised the Seed’s heel when Jesus was crucified on the cross. But when Jesus rose from the dead, He defeated the Enemy’s power over man and death was defeated.
By placing our faith in the work of Christ we no longer have to be separated from our Heavenly Father. We now have direct access to talk to the Father as we once did. And we have an advocate to go to God on our behalf (1 John 2:1-2).
We are also given the Holy Spirit who leads us into truth to help us discern right from wrong (John 16:7-11). He will also be our Comforter in times of trouble (John 14:16).
The Gospel also promises us that when we die we will spend an eternity with the Father. Whoever believes in the Lord Jesus will have everlasting life (John 3:16). Not that we will not die a physical death but that in the end we will live in the presence of the King (John 11:25) where we will no longer have to worry about sin, pain, suffering, or death (Revelation 21:4).
None of this can be done on our own. Like Adam and Eve, our works do not cover our sins. They’re insufficient. Only by what God has done as the person of the Son through His sacrifice on the cross can man be reconciled, redeemed, and restored. God, by His grace and mercy, has provided a way out of the trouble we have placed ourselves in. He could have left us up to our own devises but He knew we could not save ourselves. He could choose to wipe us all out at the first sinful thought or the first sinful act we commit. An infinitely righteous and holy God would have every right to.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”- Isaiah 52:7
The first four books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. In them they tell the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. After Jesus was born wise men came from the east looking for Him. They asked “where is He who is born king of the Jews?” (Matt. 2:2)
During the last few days of Jesus’ life, He gives us pictures of Him presented as this king: His triumphant entry riding on a donkey, His being presented a robe and crown of thorns, and His being lifted up on the cross. Although the robe, crown, and cross were used to mock and kill our Lord, they were still symbols of who He came to be.
Upon His return, Christ will establish His kingdom upon the earth and restore ALL things as it had been before Adam and Eve sinned.
Therefore, the Gospel does not just declare freedom for man. The Gospel is the good news of the Kingdom of God. Kingdoms of men come and go but the kingdom Jesus sets up will be an everlasting one (Daniel 2:44).
So how can we be sure that we enter into His kingdom? John the Baptist made it clear, “REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). Also, ““The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; REPENT and BELIEVE in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). When we repent we turn from our sins. We change from the path of death in which we were going, to life in Jesus Christ.
Further reading: Matthew 4:17, Acts 2:38-39, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, Ephesians 1:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:15-17
¹This is pictured in the temple when there was a curtain that separated the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God was, from the rest of the temple and the people. Only the High Priest could enter on the Day of Atonement. But the veil was torn the moment Christ died on the cross (Matthew 27:51)
It is incredible to think, that the God who created the entire universe by speaking it into being, would love us and want to know each one of us on a personal level. And that this same God inspired various imperfect people from all walks of life to write about his love for us in a collection of ancient manuscripts we call the Bible. But it’s not only that his love was written about and revealed to us but when you dig into the original languages the Bible was written in, you can see the story of Jesus thousands of years before he was even born hidden in unique ways.
It is more apparent to me today than it has ever been that God is incredibly multi-faceted, so much more than 3-dimensionally and I feel like the more I learn about the Bible the more this can be clearly seen. One example of this is a previous blog we wrote that talks about the hidden “verse” about Jesus in Genesis 5 which outlines the various definitions of the names of the line of Adam to Noah which reads much like a Messianic prophecy. This blog is similar in that it outlines various definitions of the names of the twelve sons of Jacob which has another amazing resemblance to the story of Jesus. I was first made aware of this from something someone else posted on social media.
Genesis 29:31-35, 30:1-24, and 35:16-18 describes the 12 sons of Jacob who would become the fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel. The following are a list of the 12 sons in order of birth with meanings of each name listed next to it;
1 Reuben – Behold A Son, Son Of Vision, Son Who’s Seen
2 Simeon – Hearing, He Who Hears, Man Of Hearing, Hearing With Acceptance
3 Levi – Joined, Adhesion
4 Judah – Let Him (God) Be Praised, Praised
5 Dan – Judge, Judging
6 Naphtali – My Wrestling
7 Gad – Good Fortune, Harrowing Fortune
8 Asher – Happy, (happiness, to be right in the eyes of someone, to obtain this person’s approval)
9 Issachar – Man Of Hire, He Is Wages, There Is Recompense
10 Zebulun – Glorious Dwelling Place, a rather reserved Dwelling, Wished-For Habitation
11 Joseph – Increaser, Repeater or Doubler, May He (Yahweh) Add, He Shall Add, He Adds, Increases, May God Add
12 Benjamin – Son (building block) Of The Right Hand (of God)
Each name has multiple meanings and even different roots. Taking into consideration that some of the names clearly describe God and others describe man, one translation of each of the twelve names, one name after the other, reads in this way:
“Behold a son who hears with acceptance, joined to (us), let Him be praised. A judge of my wrestling bringing good fortune to obtain His approval. He is wages (for) a glorious and reserved dwelling place. He shall add (us) son(s) of his right hand.”
Now, Hebrew to English is a little rough to begin with but the main idea is pretty clearly seen even without the added pronouns and conjunctions to aid in connecting the words. This isn’t to say these are the only meanings of the names, some may not even be the primary meanings but it’s amazing that God had Jacob give his children names that could be translated in a way that shows the story of Jesus coming to offer salvation to the world!