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Monday: The Covenant and the Sacrifice — 36 Comments

  1. I would invite you to look with me carefully at what is implied and inferred within the key focus of today's (and this week's) lesson. But in order to do this meaningfully, we need to first remind ourselves of the wider 'whole narrative biblical backstory'...


    Prior to Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were 'in harmony' with the 2 foundational criteria need to truly live:

    1) They were in union with God - the Source of the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). All indication is that this union is an ongoing - breath-by-breath union, rather than a once-only-at-the-start phenomenon (Acts 17:28; Job 34:14-15; Psalm 104:29).

    2) Without knowing it as such, they lived in harmony with the laws/principles/mechanisms that sustain healthy living. To do so was their 'heart's desire'. And the foundational nature of these laws/principles/mechanisms are freedom-based beneficence and non-arbitrariness. Thus, these principles were the principles that 'governed' their hearts.

    As long as Adam and Eve were in harmony with these 2 critical 'elements', they were connected to/with life. And therefore they experienced (abundant) life. They "law of the Spirit of Life" (Romans 8:2) was operational within them.

    But... in Genesis 3 The Serpent entered and proposed that this was not how reality operated - that you could, in fact, depart from these elements and "not surely die" (Genesis 3:4). Instead, The Serpent proposed that not only you could actually 'live' in violation of these 2 dimensions/elements - but you allegedly could actually experience an even more desirable, more exalted state of aliveness (Genesis 3:5).

    Unfortunately, Adam and Eve were led to believe that The Serpent's deceptive suggestions were a more reliable portrayal of reality than what God had outlined. And they 'fell'.

    How specifically did they 'fall'? Genesis 3:6 illustrates how, as a consequence of falling for what The Serpent had proposed, Eve now looked at things from a different 'heart-motive' base. Eve had embraced self-seeking as her new motive - which unfortunately being incompatible with beneficent/self-giving, had displaced her former heart motive of beneficence. This put her and subsequently Adam, out of harmony with the 2 elements that are essential for life. And thus they became instantaneously disconnected from life and instead entered a death-state. God's caution in Genesis 2:16,17 became reality: sin (being out of harmony with what is essential for life) directly causes death. In that very moment, humanity entered a terminal condition - with every human subsequently being born dead (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12-14: Ephesians 2:1-3).

    TODAY'S topic focus

    Keeping the above 'backstory' in mind, I would invite you to very carefully consider the suggestion in today's lesson that death is a debt-penalty that is "owed" to the broken law. What does this notion of "owed" imply? An outstanding debt that is not currently being paid. And (even more subtly implied) that 'debt payment' is not a natural occurrence - it has to be imposed. Essentially, what we have is a re-emergence, in a very, very, very subtle form, of the insinuation that "you will not surely die". Oh, yes, you will be put to death, but you will not die as a direct and natural consequence from sin itself. You will die because God has to put someone to death because the law has been broken.

    When something has to be applied because it doesn't naturally occur, we call that arbitrary. Thus, once again, just like back in Genesis 3:4,5) there is ever-so-subtle but nevertheless direct insinuation that God is arbitrary.

    Sin directly producing death (as per Galatians 6:8; James 1:14-15) = non-arbitrary phenomenon.

    Death being a debt that is owed and needing to yet be collected for violation of the law (as per today's lesson and the dominant paradigm amongst Christian belief) = arbitrary phenomenon.

    What is the significance of this? If at any point God acts in an arbitrary manner, Satan's allegation of God as arbitrary (Genesis 3:4,5) would be confirmed - making Satan the truth-teller! This would be a big problem.

    Thus, the portrayal of death penalty as an outstanding debt that is owed to the broken law is problematic on 2 grounds: (1) it doesn't match the basis on which life functions and (2) it reflects an arbitrary (non-naturally-occurring) phenomenon and by extension would reflect God as operating on an arbitrary basis.

    What is the practical relevance if what I have outlined above is truth? I would submit that the focus shifts from making sure an 'owed debt' is 'paid' to instead realising the primary necessity of co-operating with God to have my heart renewed and my character re-developed so that the underlying sin condition is actually cured and I am instead restored to the abundant life that Jesus came to offer (John 10:10). The biggest problem with sin is not that one day I will have a debt to pay. The biggest problem with sin is that, because it is a non-arbitrary phenomenon, whenever I indulge self-seeking, it is directly producing death in me (and by extension maleficently impacting others around me) - right-here, right-now.

    • Phil, Adam and Eve were directly commanded(Gen 3:11, and they chose to go against that instruction by yielding to the temptation to distrust God and disobey His command. (This test was allowed to prove IF they were in harmony with God's will or not, and likewise we all are proven every day by our similar choices.) Their transgression of God's "statute" marked them as rebels deserving death(Gen 2:16,17). Jesus exists as the saving means for sinners(Ex 12:1-13, Matt 1:21, John 1:29), and if one does not believe, they are already condemned and "shall die" in their sins(John 3:18; 8:24) through the means appointed by God(Ps 37, Matt 25:41, Rev 20:9). No one experiences the 2nd death until the appointed time, Christ being the only exception. His taking this death upon Himself allows sinners to be forgiven and treated as if they had never sinned(Isa 43:25, Jude 1:24) by Jesus' death for them.

      It is very simple to understand as taught in scripture.

      • Robert, God did not say that Adam and Eve would "deserve" to die if/when they ate of the fruit. He said they "would die" if they disobeyed, meaning they trusted their own judgment or someone else's above God. The serpent spoke to make Eve focus on self, rather than God and Adam. Her mind was turned from God to self, and that was the sin, *before* she ate the fruit.

        Sin begins in the heart before it ever results in action, and the Bible tells us that God looks at the heart.

        Think on how Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Then consider Eph. 2:1,5,6; Col. 2:13.

        • God said: "...for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"(Gen 2:17). The eating was rebellion demonstrated for all to see. God judges by what all others are able to observe, as stated by Solomon(Eccl 12:13,14). Until the thought is acted on, there is no evidence, and it may yet be resisted. How many are convicted and sentenced for thinking about robbing a bank or stealing a car? If the car remains unstolen or the bank isn't actually robbed or attempted to be stolen/robbed, where is the evidence of the crime? This is why the Bible clearly tells us we will be judged by our works, because they reveal the thoughts we have yielded to that are in violation of the law of God.

          Yes, sin originates in the thought/temptation, but if never acted upon, where is the guilt of being tempted if one resists and doesn't act? All are tempted in one way or another, but not all act on those temptations.

          In the judgment of the wicked, their actions/words will be judged, not their thoughts, if we believe Solomon and Jesus. We are counseled to "resist the devil", which means we will have thoughts, but we may be kept from acting on them through faith. This truth is fundamental.

          • What about the tenth commandment? Is it okay to covet as long as you don't act on it?

            I wasn't addressing whether or not temptation is sin. But since you brought it up, please consider whether there's a difference between being tempted to distrust God and actually distrusting Him, even if this distrust is not acted out. Why are the fearful and unbelieving explicitly listed among those relegated to the lake of fire? Rev. 21:8 And why does Paul suggest that the same action is judged differently based on whether it is generated by doubt or faith? (Rom 14:23)

            Did the Apostle John get it wrong when he insisted that hate is sin as well as murder? (See 1John 2:8,11; 1John 3:13,15; 1John 4:20)

            The bottom line appears to be that the Lord looks at the heart, not the outward appearance.

          • Robert

            I would propose that Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 needs to be read in conjunction with 1 Corinthians 4:5. According to 1 Corinthians 4:5, God’s ‘judgment’ is revelatory rather than deterministic. And it reaches to the level of disclosure/revelation of the heart motives underpinning the deeds/behaviours.

            Same thing took place in Genesis 6:5.

            Same process described in Hebrews 4:12.

            Same dynamic understood by Solomon in Proverbs 4:23.

            Same dynamic understood by David when he came to a right mind after he had made colossal behavioural screw-ups in Psalm 51:10.

            Man’s way: deterministically judge outward behaviour.

            God’s higher way: disclose/reveal the underpinning terminal heart condition…

          • I'm sorry Robert but what you are saying is not Biblical. The idea that only behavior can constitute "sin" is the basis for all forms of legalism and contrary to the Word of God (e.g., Matthew 5:28).

            God demands perfect righteousness which includes not only perfect behavior, but perfect motivations, perfect thoughts and perfect desires. These are only "observable" by God (1 Samuel 16:7).

            No one except Jesus has ever met this standard of righteousness (Romans 3:10-12; Psalm 14:3; Psalm 53:3) and anyone who claims otherwise is a liar (1 John 1:8).

            That is why we need Jesus and His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV).

            • Perhaps you are not understanding what I am actually saying Seig. All righteousness must begin in the heart if we believe Solomon(Prov 4:23). Motives will be judged by the works that resulted from either wrong or right motives, but the Word of God is clear, it is our works that will be judged.

              Concerning the standard being met, is prophecy lying when it speaks of a people who will reflect Christ fully before He appears? Decide for yourself.

  2. Most of us are familiar with ransomware. Hackers get into the computer system of an organisation and encrypt their data so that they cannot use it. Then they demand a ransom before they will provide a key to decrypt their data. Of course, there is no guarantee that the hackers will play ball and provide the decryption key even when the ransom is paid. It is a lucrative business and although the general advice is not to pay the ransom, often the victim pays the ransom so they can get on with their business. Governments, banks, hospitals, and even airlines have fallen victims to ransomware. It is, unfortunately, part of life in our modern world.

    The human race has fallen victim to ransomware on a cosmic scale. There is no escaping the tentacles of the ransom demanded by the grand deceiver. Jesus paid the ransom for us so that we can get on with the business of living a saved life.

    Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mat 20:28 KJV

    For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Tim 2:5,6KJV

    The ransom has been paid, we are free to live a saved life by grace.

    • Bravo, my friend.
      I hope you don’t mind if I borrow your words here (I will give you credit and quotes) to use this Sabbath, as I teach the adult Sabbath school lesson to both the old and younger generation at my church; we only have one adult sabbath school class. However, I think that the younger adults, in my class this week, will be able to relate to “ransomware” and this computer stuff that us older adults have been forced into (lol) because of the times with live in.

      Thank you for your excellent thoughts that we all can relate to and understand.

      God’s blessings to everyone!!

  3. God's being love is beyond my comprehension. That he would CHOOSE to give his life for someone so ungrateful like me just befuddles my mind. I'm glad he did! I try to stop at the foot of the cross to say thank you for paying my sin debt! Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

  4. The Covenant and the Sacrifice.
    The Covenant is the Sacrifice.
    The Covenant led to the Sacrifice.
    The Covenant was fulfilled by the Sacrifice.

    Peter introduced himself who he was and went on to encourage the believers/elect how they should be living in their/our times. The elect are those who choose to love and follow Jesus as the way. As a believer/elect he instilled in them the way they should be living in their time remembering they were redeemed/ransom not with the most costly and precious material thing of the day, but something they cant put a price to. That thing was the blood of Jesus.
    Knowing this as they knew which is(faith), Peter is saying we have to put this into practice by the way we live our lives. Our lives are like grass, here yesterday and gone today. The precious blood of Jesus in one's life converts the soul and leads a sanctified life.

  5. Jesus' sacrifice of His life allows sinners who repent to be forgiven through faith in His blood(Rom 3:25,26). The law/justice of God demands the death of the sinner(Eze 18:4, John 8:24), and if accepted by the sinner as his substitute, Jesus death satisfies the demand of death and like Isaac, the repentant, believing sinner goes free(Gen 22:13). God has paid the ransom for the whole world, if they will accept it.

    The sinner deserves the wages of sin, but God, in mercy and grace provides the means whereby the repentant sinner may be justified/sanctified and receive eternal life.

    I believe what Eve and then Adam did was far worse than this illustration of juvenile vandalism. The choice made in Eden was in defiance of the Sovereign who made and rules over all creation, and their actions introduced rebellion to the world that was perfect in its creation. Look at the results of their unbelief in today's world.

  6. Propitiation & Probation & Promise:
    No matter what anyone might try and convince me, I believe the Word of the LORD when it says over and over again that Jesus died for my sins so that God the Father could be just and the justifier. He upholds His Principles of Life as the only possible way for humans to live in God's presence but at the same time He is able to have mercy on those who repent.
    However there is a lot more to understand about the character of the LORD, not only does He forgive He also transforms our hearts and minds to be like Him. This is a daily process as we draw closer to Him through meditation and prayer and surrender ourselves to His Will daily.
    This has been God's plan since before the foundation of the world, it is not arbitrary or ad hoc or a last minute reaction to the rebellion of Adam & Eve. Right from the beginning the LORD said if you rebel I will cut you off from the Tree of Life. Adam & Eve didn't "naturally" leave the Garden of Eden, the LORD expelled them. He is the Source of Life and He is the only one who decides whether anyone will receive Eternal Life, it is not an arbitrary decision - remember the flood and Sodom & Gomorrah, the LORD takes time to investigate and to give humans the option of repenting. He has given us a probationary time to make a choice and for the Universe to understand the result of rebellion, at the same time He gave a promise that He would provide a sacrifice to pay the price on our behalf. During this probationary time He is drawing each individual to Himself and if they are willing changing their hearts and minds to be like Him - abounding in loving kindness.

    In Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 9:5 the Greek word hilasterion is used. It is the word employed by the LXX translators in Exodus 25:17 and elsewhere as the equivalent for the Hebrew kapporeth, which means "covering," and is used of the lid of the ark of the covenant, the Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:21; Exodus 30:6). This Greek word (hilasterion) came to denote not only the mercy-seat or lid of the ark but also propitiation or reconciliation by blood. On the great day of atonement the high priest carried the blood of the sacrifice, he offered for all the people within the veil and sprinkled with it the "mercy-seat," and so made propitiation.
    In 1John 2:2; John 4:10, Christ is called the "propitiation for our sins." Here a different Greek word is used (hilasmos). Christ is "the propitiation," because by his becoming our substitute and assuming our obligations he expiated our guilt, covered it, by the vicarious punishment which he endured.

    "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God" Romans 3:24-25 KJV

  7. I think ‘why’ - toward what end, for what purpose - is equally important as the ‘how’. I have learned to not learn scriptural Truth just for the sake of learning; it has to make practical sense, be applicable toward the quality of my spiritual life from which is born the practical application of God’s Truth.
    Yes, 'how' our ransome was accomplished is to be fully understood, but it is for a practical purpose - a new nature. If at the core of Christ’s Sacrifice stands *to put an end to the influence of our old sin-nature on our life*, than this implies that this influence on our nature is being replaced with something which results in that which is acceptable in the sight of God – a righteous nature; and this addresses the 'Why'!

    It seems that we place much more emphasis on ‘how’ Christ became qualified to be our Redeemer, instead of fully understanding and appreciating the ‘why’ He accomplished and gifted Salvation to us – our new life, our new nature based on His Spirit.
    Is it perhaps because we can go on forever to discuss the ‘how’ but we cannot do this with the ‘why’? *Why* is very personal to each of us as we apply it to our life.
    The 'Why' is applicable to our personal Salvation – our personal walk of being justified by faith in that which was accomplished; that which is now finished - the saving Faith of Christ Jesus unto the new life – John19:30KJV.
    We are no longer in doubt that Christ Jesus is our Redeemer! Now our focus is on being about our Father’s business, giving Praise and Honore to Him with our redeemed life. Christ Jesus' life being our example of living the true life of a spirit filled, redeemed believer.

    I know that we love our Savior Christ Jesus, but I think that too much learning is being done and not enough practical application results from it. I yearn for the people of God to live their new life boldly, to be the bright shining light on the hill, the salt of the earth, to exemplify God’s clear and uncompromised truth to those who seek after the Light of Life and Truth.
    I long for the time when there is another revival – a pouring out of the Holy Spirit into all the hearts and minds of those who already love God and those who want and seek to love Him and love their fellow man as they have been loved when they were yet sinners.
    May our Lord Christ Jesus’ Covenant of Love which ransoms many be firmly ours with humbleness and infinite gratitude.

    • Brigitte- I liked how you used the 'how' and the 'why'. Reminds me of Paul on Mars hills when he met with the philosophers. It was until he presented Christ the risen one. Then he won the argument. Let the risen Christ win the argument.

    • Hi Brigitte

      “I know that we love our Savior Christ Jesus, but I think that too much learning is being done and not enough practical application results from it.”

      Personally, I would be very cautious about drawing this conclusion. I know it can look like this, but honestly I don’t know what others are doing beyond the writing that is shared here - and others don’t know what I am doing.

      The things you write (following the above statement) that you long for, I can tell you that, praise to God, they are happening. I hope hearing that encourages you.


  8. The lesson uses what I believe to be a faulty analogy:

    Imagine that someone’s child, in an art museum, throws a balloon filled with ink on a Rembrandt painting and ruins it completely. The painting is worth millions; the parents, even if they sold everything they owned, could not come close to paying the debt owed.

    The aim of God's plan of salvation is not to pay a ransom to the devil so sinners can go free. [Think of what it means if we take the payment and ransom analogy literally. To whom is the ransom paid?]

    The aim of God's plan of salvation is to restore humanity to the perfection in which the first man and woman were created. Thus I believe that the analogy should go more like this:

    Imagine that someone’s child, in an art museum, throws a balloon filled with ink on a Rembrandt painting and ruins it completely. The painting is worth millions. The child and the parents do not have the skills to restore the painting. But then comes along Rembrandt himself [the creator of the painting] and restores it to its original beauty.

    The ransom analogy is used in Scripture to give us some idea that it cost God much to save us. Christ left heaven to be incarnate in a human body and live a life of poverty, to be rejected by those He came to save and to die an ignominious death. He did this at the risk of eternal loss.

    Our lessons this quarter have focused on the Promise aka Covenant. Unfortunately the creators of the lesson have missed a most important detail - that Christ became human, the second Adam, to fulfill humanity's end of the covenant. He perfectly kept the Law of God, the Law of self-renouncing love. That fulfilled the condition of every giving of God's Covenant Promise, beginning at the gates of Eden: I will be your God, and you shall be my people. In Christ, we are restored to communion with the Creator to be seated in heavenly places with Him. Eph. 2:6

    For more on Christ as the One who perfectly fulfilled man's side of the covenant, doing what we could not do for ourselves, see The Sonship of Christ: Exploring the Covenant Identity of God and Man, by Ty Gibson. (Ty Gibson also explains in what way/how Chris is "the Son of God" in a way that will clear away any confusion on the subject.)

    • Inge, when you say Jesus fulfilled man's side of the covenant, what exactly do you mean? Does the sinner now have no part in the covenant that he must do? If this is the case, then no one would be lost. However, we read that the vast majority of mankind will be lost, so there must be something that Jesus cannot do for us against our will.

      Could you elaborate further?

      • Robert, it is difficult to summarize in a comment what we are told we shall study for eternity. So let's begin by examining our presuppositions.

        First of all, do you believe that we are saved by fulfilling "man's side of the covenant"?

        Secondly, what do you see as the purpose of the covenant? What was the focus of the first covenant given to humanity?

        • Starting with the last question: the focus of Gen 3:15 is restoration of fallen man by the means of Christ, our substitute for the penalty of our sin, and the means/power of becoming at enmity with Satan, whom we are too often in agreement with naturally in our fallen nature.

          Your first question is easy to answer isn't it if we understand the meaning of "saved by grace through faith"? If we believe not, we stand condemned already(John 3:18), so we must believe, which no one can do for us. God gives us every evidence to exercise faith, but WE must exercise faith(John 3:16), which requires surrender of our will to the will of God. Without this personal response to the Gift of God's grace, we have no chance of being restored into the image of God.

          • Robert, it seems we are largely in agreement on my last question(s):

            Secondly, what do you see as the purpose of the covenant? What was the focus of the first covenant given to humanity?

            You wrote that the purpose of God's covenant as well as the focus of the first covenant (I assume) is "restoration of fallen man by the means of Christ, our substitute."

            So we are agreed that the purpose of God's covenant is to restore what was lost through sin, namely direct communion and fellowship with the Creator and living in His presence?

            I see that on my first question, there's a bit of a gap in communication. It's not that we necessarily disagree, but we are looking at different aspects of the giving and receiving of the covenant.

            In the actual covenant iterations, including the Ten Commandments, what does God offer, and what does He expect of humanity? Has His expectation changed since Edenic times?

            I'd love to hear from others as well ...

            • I guess I'm not sure of what you call "a bit of gap in communication" over your first question Inge. Your question is: "do you believe that we are saved by fulfilling "man's side of the covenant"?"

              My reply is that we have our part, which no one, including Christ, may do for us. We are not SAVED by our part, but it is the means by which we receive the Gift of Life promised in Jesus. A gift not received benefits no one. If we never exercise faith in God's promises, we are left as though He never promised. Those who did not board the ark died as if there was no ark to board. Even if they had a room reserved and their personal luggage stowed on the ark, if they did not board themselves, they would perish. No one was placed on the ark against their will. We have a choice to make which most of the world will reject, so it is left with us to do our part, or God's part will be worthless to us.

              Ok, how about this, God placed the manna all though the camp of Israel, but I would starve to death if I didn't get up before "the sun waxed hot" and gather the manna for myself. God did not place it in their mouths, but left them to choose to gather it or not. Wasn't He illustrating a vital point with this?

              I hope this answers you first question as I understand it.

            • In response to Inge’s invitation to provide input to this conversation, I offer the following for consideration.

              There appear to be two ‘levels’ at which Covenant necessarily exists. Both are essential.

              Prior to entry of sin-infection, the two levels would have been implicit and therefore essentially un-noticed. But with the entry of sin and it’s resulting dissolution of Covenant-connection, we can more distinctly see (via the visibility provided by hindsight) the two levels.

              ‘Level’ 1: Restoration of Covenant with humanity as a created ‘species’ of beings.

              The 1st Adam lost Covenant for the entire species human and thus the entire species became terminal with no way out of this from within all who were born of Adam (as per Romans 5:12-14).

              The 2nd Adam, ‘born/created’ a Son of God ‘like’ the 1st Adam had been (ie, same originating life instituted by God even though manifest in a slightly technically different ‘form’) retained Covenant as one valid member of the human species. So, because of the 2nd Adam’s success, the entire species is no longer terminal - one member is not.

              Humanity as a species now has two options: inheritance of life or inheritance of death.

              ‘Level’ 2: Each member of humanity must ‘consent’ to which inheritance stream they want to live in accordance with (via which heart desire they freely cultivate: eg, Genesis 6:5 vs Psalm 51:10).

              All humans (apart from Jesus) are unfortunately born under and therefore with the 1st Adam’s inheritance and associated tendency to self-seeking as their innate ‘default’ (Psalm 51:5). Because of this, the Holy Spirit necessarily ‘strives’ (Genesis 6:3) non-coercively with humans to try and foster an appetite for life over death (similar in principle to what Moses did in Deuteronomy 30:19).

              Level 2 is therefore the individual application of the Level 1 species-level potential.

            • Robert, you appear to suggest that humanity's side of the covenant is not perfect obedience but a heart set of faith. Are you the same Robert Whiteman who insists that God judges only by works/ visible actions? ("Motives will be judged by the works that resulted from either wrong or right motives, but the Word of God is clear, it is our works that will be judged." "God judges by what all others are able to observe.") You also wrote, "The saints are shown as arrayed in white robes, which represent their good works of righteousness, which are defined by the covenant Law." Yet regarding the covenant, you appear to suggest that only faith, not works, is required on humanity's side.

              I submit that the implied covenant before sin was that God would be with them in person as long as they lived in harmony with the law of life for earth and heaven. And the only behavioral restriction God placed on Adam and Eve was that they were not to eat of a certain tree. Now, I believe that Eve sinned when she distrusted the Creator (lacked faith) even before she ate the fruit. But most certainly the eating of the fruit demonstrated her misalignment with the Law of Life. And our first parents were expelled from Eden and lost face-to-face communion with their Maker as a result of their disobedience.

              God said He would make a covenant with Noah after giving him instructions to build the ark. Was not obedience to the instruction to build the ark Noah's responsibility in this covenant?

              At Sinai, God, through Moses, ratified the covenant in which they promised that they would obey His laws, which was their responsibility in the covenant. The problem with this promise was that it was made out of self-confidence, and they broke it soon after. When they realized their need, God instituted the sanctuary services which were to illustrate not only that the Messiah would come, but also that He would fulfill the covenant. He became human to render the perfect obedience the law requires. He overcame on the very points that Adam and Eve failed. Thus He became "the last Adam" into whose family we are privileged to be adopted and thus live "in Christ." We are not saved by rendering the perfect obedience the Covenant requires. Christ did that, as a human being, for all of humanity. We are saved by being adopted into His family through the new birth and accepting His salvation by faith (the individual opting in to the family of Christ). As you know, faith changes our behavior. And as we allow Christ to work in us, we experience "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

              Yes, Robert, we arrive at the same end point: At our point in time, faith in Christ is the only thing required of us to enter into the covenant. But Christ fulfilled the exact requirements of the Covenant by His life of perfect obedience, thus becoming "the last Adam." (Thanks to Phil for the further explanation!)

            • Inge, you wrote:

              “We are not saved by rendering the perfect obedience the Covenant requires. Christ did that, as a human being, for all of humanity. We are saved by being adopted into His family through the new birth and accepting His salvation by faith (the individual opting in to the family of Christ). As you know, faith changes our behavior. And as we allow Christ to work in us, we experience "Christ in you, the hope of glory."”

              What you have said absolutely accords with Galatians 2:21 and 3:21-27 which places the essential ‘elements/components/dimensions/facets’ of:

              *the role of Christ’s essential necessity of the 2nd Adam (because of the otherwise unresolvable problem referred to in Romans 5:12-14),


              *rebirth as Children of God (with new hearts and right Spirits) and

              *character re-development

              … each and all of these in perfect perspective with each other and the overall totality.

            • Inge, it is not Robert Whiteman who Authored scripture, which tells us plainly that "every work will be brought into judgment", which I still believe, but the conversation was on our part of the covenant, which remains just as Jesus taught: "let him deny himself...and follow me", "repent and believe the Gospel", "take my yoke upon you...", etc. Exercising faith will result in the sanctified life by "the power of GOD unto salvation to everyone that believes"(Rom 1:16). We will have temptations to resist, choices to make, the good fight of faith, etc, as our part. God makes no choices for us, but "girds me with strength and makes my way perfect"(Ps 18:32, Phil 2:13). Let's just say that NOT doing our part will lead to remaining lost(John 8:24). Either way, it is our part, which no other can do for us.

              Inge, don't you need make an assumption to claim Eve sinned before taking the fruit, when the command was not to touch/eat the fruit? Yes, taking the fruit proves the distrust that came about by the deceptive insinuations of Satan, but the eating of the fruit was forbidden, not being tempted. Jesus was tempted, but never sinned as a result. I maintain what I have learned from the Word of God that sin is the transgression of the law, and our works/words will be judged as proof of our alienation from trusting in God. No one is jailed for thinking or even talking about robbing a bank, as long as the bank is never robbed. Regardless of her entertaining doubts, would Eve have been guilty of sin if she never touched/ate the fruit? Perhaps she might have shared her doubts with Adam who could have persuaded her to talk with God before eating of the tree. Being deceived is not a sin unless we act in unbelief. Have you never had a doubt enter your mind?

              Our works will prove our faith or reveal our unbelief. If our faith does not result in good works of righteousness, we have no faith, and are left clothed in our filthy rags.

              To Phil, your comment has some points that seem to need a little refining, but I'll have to give it more thought as it comes across to me as complicating a rather simple subject. I just need to make sure I know what it is you are actually saying.

            • Robert, on the matter of how God judges, I did not say that works would not be judged. 
              I did say that God looks further than external appearances.

              Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. That explains why it is misleading to compare our earthly laws and legal system to God's Law. Considering your long history of contributions on this blog, I am surprised that you would argue that God does not judge the sins of the heart/mind as well as actions.

              In an earlier response to you, I wrote:

              please consider whether there's a difference between being tempted to distrust God and actually distrusting Him, even if this distrust is not acted out.
              Why are the fearful and unbelieving explicitly listed among those relegated to the lake of fire? Rev. 21:8 
              And why does Paul suggest that the same action is judged differently based on whether it is generated by doubt or faith? (Rom 14:22-23)
              Did the Apostle John get it wrong when he insisted that hate is sin as well as murder? (See 1John 2:11; 1John 3:13,15; 1John 4:20)

                Was the thief on the cross lost, despite the words of Jesus, because He had no opportunity to put his faith into action?
              And why did Jesus say that he who lusts after a woman has committed adultery with her already if lusting is not sin?
              If I were to believe you, I would have to believe that it is all right to be disbelieve (as Eve did), to covet, hate and lust, as long as we don't act on our thoughts/feelings.

              As for Eve's sin: It was more than disbelief of God's word. When she took the fruit because it would make her wiser, she was focused on advancing her own position, and thus she violated the law of self-renouncing love.

              You write

              I maintain what I have learned from the Word of God that sin is the transgression of the law, and our works/words will be judged as proof of our alienation from trusting in God.

              That is a good "proof text," and your use of it demonstrates the insufficiency of "proof texting." The Bible is more story than law book or encyclopedia. But I digress ... The whole Bible teaches us about sin and righteousness, and I gave you some references above. There are more, such as James 4:17 and Rom 14:23 and more ...

              Since the Law reaches into the very recesses of the heart, as the tenth Commandment indicates, "transgression of the law" is necessarily a heart matter. The law of life for earth and heaven is the law of self-renouncing love. Any deviation from it results in death, even if it is not immediately evident because God continues to give probationary life.

              There is a difference between sinning in thought and being tempted (like the difference between noticing an attractive woman and lusting after her), but that's a whole other subject.

            • Summary of Christ fulfilling humanity's side of the Covenant as the "last Adam" in response to Robert Whiteman "here and here and later:

              I suggested that the condition of eternal life, according to the Covenant, is the same now as it was in Eden - perfect obedience, perfect harmony with the law of self-renouncing love. Under other circumstances you have argued this yourself. Since none of us have lived a life of perfect obedience, we would all be lost if it were not for Christ who fulfilled the human side of the Covenant. That is an aspect of the New Covenant which is all based on God's promises, not ours. Christ became human to overcome where our first parents failed. He became the second Adam, being faithful and demonstrating self-renouncing love even to His death. This qualified Him to be our Savior. (There is much more to this subject, and we'll be studying for eternity, but we can begin here to understand more deeply than the usual proof texts.)

              We are not saved by rendering the perfect obedience the Covenant requires. Christ did that, as a human being, for all of humanity. We are adopted into the family of Christ, the "last Adam" and become partakers of eternal life when we put our faith in Him. That's what Paul calls being "in Christ." And as He works out His righteousness in us, we experience "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The results are visible in deeds of self-renouncing love. 

            • Inge, show me anything you can from scripture to support your idea that our thoughts motives, apart from works, will be judged. God's word to Samuel when being shown the next king of Israel from Jesse's sons is another topic isn't it? It has nothing to do with the final judgment of a person's life, but rather deals with qualification for a specific work in the service of the Lord. We cannot know someone's motives or the true condition of the heart, but we can see the result of actions/words. The judgment is not for God, but for His creation.

              Also, could you give me your understanding of Eph 4:12,13, and what it means in regards to the ability of sinners keeping the law as Jesus, the son of man did in His earthly life.

              (Are you aware of Ellen's comments on the "proof text" 1 Jn 3:4? Can you show me any scripture that shows this verse is not completely accurate of itself?)

            • Biblical Evidence that God Judges the Heart, not just outward behavior
              Robert, I believe that God's words to Samuel demonstrate a principle when He said in 1 Sam. 16:7 that"Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

              But we can leave that text aside for the moment, because the rest of Scripture provides abundant evidence that God judges by the heart, not mere outward appearance or actions.

              It seems I must be a poor communicator. So please let me try again to clarify:

              John defines sin as the transgression of the Law of God. 1 John 3:4 May I gently suggest that seeing sin as only outward behavior reveals a very superficial view of God's Law?

              Jesus summarized the Law as love for God and love for man. Matt 22: 37-39 Thus the law can be transgressed by failing to love. That's a matter of the heart.

              The last of the Ten Commandment clearly forbids coveting. (Ex. 20:17) Coveting is a matter of the heart that is not necessarily expressed in action, though it often leads to stealing, murder or adultery.

              Paul suggests that the same food may be all right to eat for one person, but not for another, depending on whether they eat "in faith." He writes that whatever actions are not motivated by faith are sin. By that definition of sin, Eve sinned before she took the fruit, because she doubted God's word. Romans 14:22-23

              The Apostle John wrote that whoever hates his brother is a murderer. Since the 6th Commandment clearly forbids murder, hate is also a transgression of the Law. 1 John 3:15 Hate is a matter of the heart which may or may not be expressed in actions, such as murder.

              When the Lord comes to judge, He "will make manifest the counsels of the heart." It seems that's what is in the heart matters to God. We cannot know the heart, therefore we are not to judge. 1 Cor. 4:5 (compare Matthew 7:1)

              The word of God, by which we are judged "discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Heb. 4:12 Again, since we cannot discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart, we are forbidden to judge individuals.

              Jesus and James agree that our understanding of God's will determines whether or not something is sin to us. John 9:41; James 4:17. James explicitly says that only when we know what to do and don't do it, is it sin to us. The corollary follows that God does not judge unknowing transgressions of God's law as sin. (It is just one of the demonstrations of God's love and mercy.) The same thought shows up in Acts 17:30

              No one denies that God judges behavior, but most of us recognize that it is possible to sin in our hearts without anyone knowing. In fact, the very same actions may be sin or not sin, depending on motive. (cf. Romans 14:22,23)

              The bottom line, for me, is that sin is anything out of harmony with the law of self-renouncing love, which is the law of life for earth and heaven. But, praise be to God that He only counts as sin a knowing transgression of His Law. When we transgress unknowingly, He overlooks it. What a wonderful, loving and merciful God we serve!

            • Inge, nothing in your reply shows me from the word of God that He will be judging motives apart from works in the final judgment. Yes, God can know our thoughts/motives, but none of His creatures have that ability, and if He judges according to what we cannot know except by HIS conclusions, then we must accept His judgment without clear evidence. Does that sound just to you? This is why the judgment will be based on works, which will reveal the heart/mind of unbelief or faith. The very existence of the forbidden tree with full access demonstrates that God uses our works to reveal our heart. Otherwise why have the tree, when God could have said "In the day you ever doubt me, you will surely die"? Our words/actions reveal to all our true thoughts, which God already knows. The judgment of works is for the benefit of God's creation.

              I submit these few passages as evidence of a works-based judgment: Eccl 12:13,14, Rev 22:12, Matt 12:36; 25:31-46, John 10:32. Also, how did God reveal the remaining fearful when selecting men for Gideon's army?

              I will pass on replying to all the verses you cite with your comments. Many have nothing to do with the final judgment which all the redeemed will take part in, and some, in my opinion, seem misapplied to this topic.

              I believe scripture to be unequivocal on the judgment of works, not thoughts, which cannot be proven to creatures who cannot read minds. God will be proclaimed as "just and true" by all His creatures(Rev 15:3), including Satan.

              I have nothing further to add.

            • For what it’s worth, 1 John 3:4 accurately translated is essentially:

              “Everyone practicing sin practices lawlessness - indeed, sin is lawlessness (anomia = without law).”

              Thus, functionally, sin is any and all that is outside Law.

              So, what is Law?

              As Inge has correctly outlined, the most foundational manifestation of Law is self-renouncing beneficence/Agape love. This is why Jesus was able to say that all the law and the prophets hang on the foundational law of Agape-based orientation towards God and towards others (Matthew 22:37-40). All other laws that constitute the reality that is abundant life share this foundational/fundamental attribute.

              Anything that is not motivated by this Agape-beneficence is ‘sin’ which steals, kills and destroys. Thus sin is inherently maleficent - inherently life-precluding.

              Behaviour is not a reliable indicator of underpinning heart-desire/motivation/condition (eg, Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 7:22,23). Consequently the only 100% reliable indicator of a person’s deepest and therefore true condition is their heart’s desire. This is why God ‘judges’ (revelatory not determinatory as per 1 Corinthians 4:5) the heart (as per 1 Samuel 16:7 and Hebrews 4:12 principle also reflected in Genesis 6:5 assessment finding/‘judgment’).

              1 Corinthians 4:5 in context is talking about how God at final ‘judgment’ will reveal to humans what they otherwise would not be able to see, but then will be able to see clearly for themselves. God’s ‘judgment’ is always the same: always revelation of the truth of what actually is in existence. Thus, humans will see for themselves evidence that speaks for itself - no interpretation needed.

              If behaviour is not an infallible indicator of deepest heart desire, but deepest heart desire is, where does it make sense to focus ‘judgment’?

              I would submit that the above are not proof texts. Rather, they are the more explicit concise expressions of principles consistently found across the entirety of scripture. But at the end of the day, each of us must prayerfully look into these things for ourselves and decide what we believe and why (2 Timothy 2:15; Acts 17:11; Romans 14:5).

            • 1Cor 4:4-5
              4My conscience is clear, but that does not vindicate me. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

              How will God reveal the motives of men's hearts?
              We are told that every thought and deed is written in the books/records of heaven which will be opened for all to read/view in the 1000 years in heaven so that the saints can judge righteously not just by outward appearances. Rev 20:3;John 7:24

            • Phil, 1 Jn 3:4 in the KJV is accurate. Lawless = violation/transgression of the law. While the common language may evolve over time, the meaning does not change. All the English translations I looked at(Biblehub.com) say the same thing with different words. It means to rebel against the spoken/written will of the Lord.

              As for the law, the form/language in which it has been given to man through Moses is "perfect"(Ps 19:7,11), and notice how Jesus quoted the law when asked what one needed to do to be saved(Mark 10:19). No one can add to or restate it to make it more perfect can they? Notice the manner in which it is written for sinners("thou shalt not..."). Sinners do not have the capacity to understand much concerning God's character, government or purposes(Dan 12:10), but "Thou shalt not kill" brings condemnation to even the most degraded sinner, and to such a convicted soul, the Gospel has a chance.

              You may come to explain the law in what some may consider a more "spiritual" language, but as given through Moses, it was and remains perfect, or God would have worded it differently. Too often, attempts to add to God's word actually make it more confusing and rob it of its power to convict sinners.

              For the judgment of the world, their works(what they do and/or say) will be judged by God and the redeemed of the earth. The Bible is more than clear on this, and you could do a search in Ellen's writings to see this clearly pointed out as well.

              You wrote: "If behaviour is not an infallible indicator of deepest heart desire, but deepest heart desire is, where does it make sense to focus ‘judgment’?", to which I would reply: "where is your scripture to support this suggestion?" The passages you cite in their context actually prove the opposite don't they(Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 7:22,23)? Also, who is saying behavior is not an infallible indicator? Certainly not Jesus, who is rather clear on this, as well as Solomon, whom many have called "wisest" of men. Whatever might seem more "reasonable" to some must agree with scripture if it is to be seen as a valid consideration. I simply cannot accept the notion based on the clear teaching of God's Word. Notice how Christ says "I know thy works" to the 7 churches, and does not say "I know thy thoughts", even though He does. All the logic that the learned may muster does not change the word of God. We also know what scripture says about the "wisdom" of this world. Besides, how many thoughts of others has anyone been able to know apart from their actions? We simply do not have the capacity as God does. No mind-readers are used to convict in the courts of the land that I've ever heard of, only witnesses of actions and submitted evidence which helps to reveal the guilty party.


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