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Friday: Further Thought ~ For What Nation Is so Great? — 11 Comments

  1. People often refer to the eighteenth century (more-or-less) as the period of the enlightenment, where new ideas were explored and developed. Led by the reformation, people threw off the shackles of an oppressive controlling persecuting church and its dogma and developed new ideas. Although we are at odds with some of the ideas that developed during this period, there is no doubt that much of the religious freedom we enjoy today grew out of the enlightenment period.

    The Hebrews had their period of enlightenment during the exodus from Egypt. They were released from slavery and were enlightened, not by an age of reason, but by God's presence. The Exodus period was not a garden of roses. There were lessons to be learned. One price of freedom was responsibility, and it took a while and some hard lessons to learn what responsibility really meant. Baal Peor was a tough, bitter lesson.

    While the Hebrews look back on the Exodus experience as a nation forming period, it is also a reminder that lessons learned are easily forgotten. What is learned in one generation does not necessarily pass on to the next generation. The Books of the Kings and Chronicles are a litany of good behaviour followed by bad. Enlightenment is one thing, but keeping the flame burning is another issue altogether.

    Putting this all together in our modern 21st century, we live in a new age of enlightenment. We have individual freedoms to worship; we have education and access to information; we have communication as we have never had before. What is the state of our spiritual development in this environment? One of the catch-cries of the early period of enlightenment was René Descartes' 1637 philosophy of "Cogito, ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"). It carries with it the notion of self-awareness, but it misses one key point. If we are self-aware but fail to be aware of others then we have lost the key plot of Christianity.

    Without resorting to Latin, perhaps we should extend Descartes idea to "I think, therefore I am! Now I must think of others!" When we learn to think of others, more than ourselves, we have taken on the responsibility that lies at the very heart of Christianity.

    "By this shall all men know ..." You know the rest.

  2. How did Satan"deceive men, and thus lead them to transgress God’s law... the object which he has steadfastly pursued"?

    If we look carefully at Satan's conversation with Eve and its progression of thought, we find that in Genesis 3:4 Satan is claiming that Eve won't die if she disregards the 'law' that God has outlined in Genesis 2:16,17. Now let's look even closer at what is going on - and we will see very subtle ("crafty") deception. It is the Deceiver/Slanderer (Greek: diablo) that is deceptively misportraying God as the deceptive one!

    Satan insinuating that God is being deceptive about how life actually works. Satan is insinuating that God's laws are merely rules that God has made and enforces. This is the most subtle form of arbitrary - that something is merely made-up as opposed to be inherently imbedded in reality. This is why beast-based powers think they can "change times and laws" (Daniel 7:25) because they mistakenly think and promote that God's laws are no different to made-up human laws.

    This is also why the first angel correspondingly calls humans back to the original reference point of 'law' - creation based on inherent cause-and-effect principles (true law) that is the fabric of reality (Revelation 14:7; Romans 1:20; Romans 8:2). And because there is only one viable reality, that reality is the reality of the Kingdom of God - true live based on other-benefiting love.

    The fundamental struggle over law is not which rules to follow. It is a struggle over which form of law God uses - made-up rules that have to be enforced or inherent design principles that govern the reality of abundant life on the principle of cause and effect (eg Galatians 6:7,8; Romans 8:2)*.

    What is Satan's end-game? Satan is happy for people to see God's laws as nothing more than rules made up and enforced by a power-wielding Sovereign and in response to this, reject God and in so doing align themselves with Satan (because there is no other 'neutral' option). Or Satan is happy for people to see God's rules as made-up and enforced and in response be deceived into adopting the same approach toward others - coercion over freedom. We see an example of this under Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:29. Seemingly good attempt by Nebuchadnezzar to get people to follow God's way - but using the methods of the Kingdom of Darkness to do so.

    God's way is to inform people of how reality operates - its inherent laws of cause-and-effect - and then to non-coercively encourage yet allow people to freely choose which path they will take (eg Deuteronomy 30:15-20). Satan's way is to portray things as merely laws that are being enforced and thereby 'condition' us to follow along in adopting coercive attitudes and practices - even in their most subtle form. This is how Satan "deceive(s) men, and thus lead(s) them to transgress God’s law... the object which he has steadfastly pursued."

    * I am in no way implying that the laws of reality are somehow independent of God. Like the law of other-benefiting love which is the law of life for earth and heaven and which has its source in the heart of God (Desire of Ages p19.2), God and the laws of reality are inseparable (hence, Romans 1:20).

    • Phil,
      Are you familiar with the character of God message? You speak of design/natural laws, and overall you sound unlike the traditional messages presented by Churches, today.

      Blessed by your comments this week!!

      • Hi Benjamin

        If you mean characterofgod.org, then yes I am aware of their material. I praise God for any blessing you have received. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts too on the issues raised in the passages and topics under exploration.

  3. As I finished this weeks lesson, my takeaway is that I have to make each question asked personal. If I look at the questions regarding “the church”, it’s easy to point out the wrongs of “the church”. But when I ask myself “how am I doing” in these matters, then I have to really think about it, after all, I am the church. I can’t change what anyone else is doing, I can only change what I’m doing. Satan tries to be subtle, but the more I am obedient to Gods laws, the more sensitive I am to Satans lies. It’s just the way things work. It’s the same principle that banks use to train tellers to detect counterfeit money. They don’t handle the counterfeit money, they handle the real thing so much that they can instantly detect the counterfeit. That’s how we/I have to be with obeying Gods law.

  4. This past week's lesson added many new insights to my learning about Scriptural Truth, God's Wisdom and Understanding imparted to mankind.
    I find that, though the Israelite were a stubborn people, stiff-necked and self-willed, God still chose them for His people. God never relented in His effort to turn them toward Him; though they remained a difficult, obstinate people, they will remain His throughout time.
    Could one say that their disposition is mirrored in peoples throughout this world? God's Way, His Law and statutes are more than a match for what the adversary offers, but man will come to benefit from it only by denying himself, dying to 'self', whereas man can benefit from the adversary's 'way' by 'increasing' himself by living more for self. What is more enticing to the senses - the adversary's way or God's Way of Life?

    I see God's Law to be the 'Way of Life', His blueprint to establish for mankind the path which reunites us with our Maker, the LORD of all life. The adversary's 'way' is actually no law at all - he lacks authority; it is only the adversary's 'preference' manifested by his personal, willful choice of what life 'should be based on' - self-satisfaction.
    His path is expressed in the walk of the rebellious ones, those who chose their 'own' path. The focus of his path is on satisfying the senses and to accept this material world as man's home. 
    Man in its basic, outward form is a body of flesh; a sensual, material being attracted by anything that stimulates his senses. God's adversary has easy pickings among those who reject that man is in essence a spiritual being, showing a lack of understanding that the spiritual essence of the living soul is the focus of the 'warfare' between our God and his adversary.

    May man come to understand that he/she is more than the body; that he is a living, spiritually guided soul which is constantly exposed to alluring influences addressing his 'appetites' to entice him to walk the path of destruction.
    May we who have seen the Light of God's Truth - His Wisdom and Understanding - be guided by Him, ever willing and ready to let His Light shine, allowing it to demonstrate His Power - His Law of Love, the Salt of this earth and the Water that quenches the thirsty soul seeking righteousness in a world that can only offer the lie and its deception - this is my prayer!

    • While I agree with most of what you are saying Brigitte, there is a touch of "dualism" used in the way you describe it. Dualism is the notion that the body and mind are separate entities, or as is sometimes expresses in Christian terms, "body and soul". You are quite right that we are more than just a physical body, or in scientific terms, we are more than just a walking chemical reactions. But, we are an integrated whole and inseparable. There is not a God bit and a Satan bit. The battle is between good and evil for the total person.

      • Maurice - I understand your concern, though I made an extra effort to refer to man is a living soul.
        Gen.2:7KJV - "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
        This is the passage I refer to when considering man to be a living soul.
        The living soul experiences its relationship with the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit.
        For example:
        1Cor.6:19-20KJV "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies", (instead of 'self')
        1Cor.3:16KJV - "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?
        Rom.8:26-28KJV - The Holy Spirit speaks for us if our words fail us; "he maketh intersession for the saints according to the will of God". Those who love Him 'hear' His voice and are the ones who are called according to his purpose.
        I hope this will help assure everyone that I do not ascribe to the teachings of 'Dualism', but receive my understanding from our beloved Scriptures. Eph.6:12

        • Thank you Brigitte. I did not think that you were a dualist but some of your descriptions came across that way for those of us who have studied some of the alternative views and expressions of Christianity. It is one of the issues we face in our virtual community where we have so many different backgrounds. I have to remember that when I lapse into the Australian idiom.

  5. What does it mean to add or to take away from God’s commands? Outside of the obvious, such as the attempted change of the Sabbath, how might something like that happen so subtly we don’t even realize what is happening?

    I believe that we attempt to add or take away from God's command when we make them a burden for the people. If the commands become a stumbling block for the people then we have already changed God's commands, as God gave the commands to be a benefit in our relationship with him. Growing up as a PK, in the 90's people in the church would have a list of do's and don'ts that made the sabbath a burden to the young people. So it went from a time that should be enjoyable to a day that many young people resented.

  6. "How are we responding to what we have been given?  How well are we projecting our “wisdom and understanding” before the world?"  Deuteronomy 4:6. Points out that we are projecting God's love by keeping and obeying His directives.

    After all these years there is still credence and validation in the words, "trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey".  The Deuteromeny version is trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Yahweh, but to trust and obey.
    Deuteronomy 4:1-9. Points out the understanding and wisdom of trust in Yahweh by keeping and obeying God's statutes. 

    Listen, assimilate in your heart, and I hope you choose to trust and obey Yehweh. For trust in God leads to life and distrust leads to: well you know, and if perchance you don't know, read the verse before Deuteronomy 30:19.  Deuteronomy 4:1,4,6. Deuteronomy 30:19-20.


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