An Inductive Study Through Genesis 2

-Why are there two different creation stories – one found in Genesis ch. 1 and the other in ch. 2? The answer is chapter 1 is a brief overview of the days of creation while chapter 2 gives us a focused and more detailed description of the creation of man.

Genesis 2:1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

-These verses describe the first week of the Creation, which ends with the 7th day, a special day that God blessed and set apart as special. The Hebrew, in which these words were penned, makes it clear that the creation was completed when the 7th day began.

-Notice that whereas the first 6 days were all marked off by the formula, “The evening and the morning were the 1st, 2nd, 3rd . . . day,” we don’t see that for the 7th day. The reason why is because the creative agency of God continues to be complete; His rest from the work of creation continues.

-When it says that God rested on the 7th day, it does not mean He was tired and needed a break. The word simply means to cease from labor. Isaiah 40:28 makes it clear that God does not grow weary, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary.”

-The rest of God on the 7th day implies that God was ending His work to enter a new phase in His relation to the creation, and that was to enjoy it.

-The work of creation is complete and God now adds a day, the final day, as a time to enjoy the creation. This is why God blessed the 7th day and sanctified it. When something is sanctified, it means it’s set apart for God’s special use and purpose.

-Because of this, a 7-day week becomes a part of the creation-cycle; it’s built into the very fabric of the creation. Historically, we see this 7-day pattern repeated again and again in the cultures of the world.

-There have been some who’ve tried to alter it, as in the French Revolution when they tried to throw off every last vestige of Biblical faith and go to a 10-day week. But all such attempts to alter the 7-day week have been fruitless.

-The NT makes it clear that what the OT Sabbath day began has now been completed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Faith in Him brings us rest from a life of trying to earn our way into God’s presence through the works of the law. Christ IS our Sabbath.

-So, while we don’t have to observe the Sabbath as a religious duty, it’s still wise for us to understand that 6 days of work and 1 day of rest is part of the very fabric of creation. For health’s sake, we ought to take one day in every week to rest and renew ourselves by ceasing from our usual labor and giving ourselves to the enjoyment of God’s creation.

-Verse 1 of chapter 2 is a profoundly interesting statement for what it implies about the physical universe. It says that God finished His work of creating. This verse squares perfectly with the established laws of science, the most basic of which are the laws of conservation of mass and energy.

-The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form. The creation account of Genesis 1 and these first verses of chapter 2 imply this exactly; that God created all the matter and energy in the universe and then ended that creative work.

-Having created all matter and energy – which we see in 1:1-2, God then set certain laws to govern that physical universe.

-The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that it’s the nature of energy to move to a state of equilibrium. Also called the Law of Entropy, it refers to the fact that energy tends to spread itself out evenly over space unless there is a continual influx of new energy building it back up. The Law of Entropy says that left to itself, energy will flow from the higher to the lower place until the level of energy is uniform throughout.

-Another way to describe it is that left to themselves, things will go from a state of order to disorder. So the THEORY of evolution is flatly refuted by a LAW of Physics! And yet the Fall and God’s promise that death would come when man rebelled fits perfectly with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Genesis 2:4-6 “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, 5before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.”

-Genesis 1 is the account of creation. Chapter 2 begins the history of the earth, and right off we’re told that earth conditions were very different than they are today.

-There was no rain, but there was a constant mist that saturated the air and ground with moisture. The thick vapor canopy that surrounded the atmosphere would make just such a mist possible and would provide for lush vegetation when God did create it.

Genesis 2:7 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 being.

-God started with the dust of the ground and fashioned a body for man. The word “formed” is used in Jeremiah 18 to describe the work of the potter forming a vessel. Since man is made of the “dust of the ground” (Psa. 103:14), the metaphor of a potter working in clay is fitting.

-The Hebrew for man is adam and comes from the word for ground – adamah

-Once the physical body was ready, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God imparts to man something that was not “of the earth” but rather had it’s origin in and from Him – His very breath.

-In both Hebrew and Greek there is one word for breath and spirit. What God is doing here is giving man a spirit by touching him with His own Spirit. The point for us to glean here is that man possessed a level and kind of life the animals did not have.

-With the impartation of the spirit – man became a living being. The word “being” is nephesh and is translated in other places as “soul,” or “person.” Now, here’s what’s interesting – the same Hebrew phrase is used of the animals in Gnesis 1:20, 24.

-Animals have souls – that is, they possess life that knows desires and appetites. They may even have rudimentary emotions like fear, or contentment.

-But the difference between the creation of man and the animals is that man’s soul comes as the result of the merging of his spirit with his body. We never read that the animals have a spirit; the life they possess is a simple kind of soul that has only one aim that is survival.

-Man is different because his soul, his desires and emotions are the result of the spirit’s infusion of the body.

Genesis 2:8-9 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

-Verse 9 doesn’t contradict what we read in chapter 1 about the 3rd day of creation when the plants were made – this is merely describing God’s construction of Eden. So all of this takes place, of course, on the 6th day.

-The word “Eden” means pleasure or luxury and that’s precisely the environment God placed the first man in – a beautiful place that delighted the senses.

Genesis 2:10-14 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

-Coming out of the region of Eden was a river that watered the garden. Once it left the garden it split into 4 branches. The way these rivers are described leaves you with the impression this was recorded by an eyewitness.

-There’s a good chance that Adam or one of his descendants wrote this, and while there’s a good bit of geography given here, trying to identify these rivers with contemporary rivers is fruitless because the Flood
radically altered the geography of the earth.

-The reason why some rivers are still called by these names is because Noah and his sons used the old names for the new rivers they found after the flood.

Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

-Many people have the mistaken notion that work is the result of the Fall. Work and labor are not a part of the curse; where the curse comes in is in unfruitful, unproductive work!

-Even though God had enclosed the garden and set every good tree in it, man was delegated the duty of tending to it. We’re left with the impression that God is calling man into a partnership. God creates, and then man stewards.

-Because man is created in the image of God, he possesses the capacity to use the creation in a way that carries on in the mode and motif God established and which brings God glory.

-The word “put” here in v. 15 refers to the act of setting something in its intended place where it is at rest. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, He was setting him in the place where he was meant to be. His task of taking care of the garden was a part of what God intended for him as a man.

-In v. 15 the garden is called the “Garden of Eden.” In Genesis 13:10 and Ezekiel 28:13 it’s called the Garden of the Lord. This wasn’t Adam’s garden, it was God’s. Adam was merely the gardener.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

-This is the first occasion of God speaking a specific command and it comes in reference to man’s diet. Adam can eat of any and all the trees save one. Why did God make the tree of the knowledge of good and evil if Adam wasn’t going to be allowed to eat of it? Because for Adam to be a creature of free will, there had to be a choice.

-It wasn’t merely a case of giving Adam the opportunity to show his disobedience – without such a choice as this there was no opportunity for him to show his obedience! If there is never a command, never something forbidden, then there can never be choice. And choice is crucial to this whole venture because without choice there can be no genuine love.

-God wants our love and obedience to Him to be the love and obedience of choice. So there had to be the opportunity to exercise choice.

Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

-Though everything has received the pronouncement from God of being good, now He sees something that is not good, that Adam is alone.

-While God sees the problem, Adam is blissfully ignorant of it at this point. So God does something to make Adam realize his need.

Genesis 2:19-20 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

-In naming the animals, Adam quickly came to realize that all of them had a mate; there was a male and female of each of the animals. No doubt it was then that Adam realized while he was superior to them in terms of the level of his life and capacities, he was inferior to them in this regard.

Genesis 2:21-22 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

-Here in verse 21 we read that God took one of Adam’s ribs to make Eve. Actually the Hebrew word used here is an archaic one that we aren’t really sure of the literal meaning for.

-The translators render it as “rib” because of a lack of anything else to think of as coming from Adam’s side. It’s the word tsaòla, and means “curved.”

-Very early the word came to be associated with the materials of construction and the buildings they constructed. This word is used for the small storage rooms that lined the temple, rooms called “cells.”

-In light of all we know now about genetics, what we may be seeing here is God taking a cell and some DNA material from Adam and manipulating it to produce the woman. Think about it, what is DNA but a curved molecule that contains the genetic material from which a person is derived.

Genesis 2:23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

-Adam doesn’t name her as he does the animals. By naming the animals he’d shown his dominion over them. Adam GIVES Eve his name – he is “ish,” she is “isha,” the feminine form of “ish.”

Genesis 2:24-25 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

-These verses are crucial to our understanding of what God intends for marriage and this passage will be covered in a different study, but for now, let’s end with this.

-In v. 18, God said it was not good that the man was alone – then we read the story of the creation of Eve. At the point God said man’s aloneness was not good; sin had not yet infected the creation.

-The image of God in man was unmarred – and yet God still said man’s aloneness was not good, man was incomplete.

-I think we see in this a huge clue as to why God created in the first place. You see, just as man, created in and bearing the image of God, needed a companion – could it be that God, dwelling in eternity, wanted a companion too.

-It was in Adam’s sleep that God took from his side that which He made into his bride, just as it was in Christ’s deep sleep on the cross that God took from His side that which He made into His bride. The spear went in, and the blood that flowed became the basis, the ground of our salvation, the bridal price for our redemption.

-I find it interesting in Ephesians 5 where Paul is defining the roles of the husband and the wife, he ends by turning everything around and saying that marriage is but a picture of Christ and the church.

-From that perspective, verses 24 & 25 in Genesis 2 take on a whole new meaning. Not only do these verses reveal God’s plan for marriage between a man and woman – they shows us the kind of relationship He wants with us.

-God doesn’t want a pet – a lap dog, a finicky cat that occasionally brushes up against His leg. He wants a bride, a lover, a companion, as it says of Eve – a helper.

-Not that God NEEDS help! He needs nothing. But He still consents to give us a place in what He’s doing and His great plan for the ages.
Look at verses 24 and 25 again –

24Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

-When we come to faith in Christ, we become new creatures. We leave behind our old identity and become the Bride of Christ.

-The relationship God wants with us is not some distant, infrequent thing but an intimate oneness that goes to the very core of our being.

-He wants to remove all shame, all guilt, all regret, and replace them with acceptance, love abounding, peace, and absolute confidence. If these things are not yours today, get your eyes off your failure and put them on Your Forgiver and Lover – Jesus Christ.

An Inductive Study Through Genesis 1

-About 10 billion years ago there was a densely packed point of energy that was infinitely tiny. In fact, that infinitesimal point of energy was all there was. In it was contained all space, time, and what would eventually turn in to matter. For reasons that are still unclear – this singularity as it is called, exploded! Energy radiated outward and congealed into tiny proto-particles, which further combined to form electrons, neutrons and protons. These combined to form atoms and molecules. These then began to clump together to form minerals and larger bodies of matter called gas. These gases and minerals further condensed as they cooled and formed stars and planets. These stars and planets then began grouping up into clusters called galaxies.

-But an interesting thing happened on at least one of the planets circling round one of those stars in one of those millions of galaxies. As the planet cooled from its superheated state after the explosion of the singularity, on this particular planet, which was the exact distance from its star necessary to allow it, some water formed. Now liquid water is unusual in the universe because it requires a very narrow temperature zone. Most water is either hard in the form of ice or its hydrogen and oxygen have been split apart by intense heat. As chance would have it, this planet was just the right distance from the nearest star to allow the formation of liquid water. Clouds formed, and the rain came down and washed over the rocks, wearing them down into stones, and pebbles and eventually sand and finally dirt. Then as more stones were carried by the rain down over the dirt, some of the dirt molecules banged together and formed little square shaped buttons.

-As more pebbles banged into the buttons, they etched little numbers on them. Over a couple billion years, these buttons ended up being bumped into a plastic frame that snapped into a case with diodes, memory chips, and an LCD display. But wait, it was without a power source. Not to worry, other rocks and minerals had been banging together to produce batteries, which by chance rolled into a slot in the back of the plastic case, and voila – a Calculator!

-Ridiculous? Of course! And yet you and I are asked to buy this scenario when it comes to the origin of living things. Yet the engineering and mechanics of the simplest cell make the technology of a pocket calculator look like a toy!

-The human eye, the human brain are feats of complexity and engineering NO EVOLUTIONARY SCENARIO could ever explain!

-If it all began with the Big Bang – with that singularity that exploded – you’re still faced with the question of where did THAT come from! Logic demands something which has always been, which owns its own existence and which is greater than the cause and effect universe in which we live. The very first verse of Genesis solves that dilemma.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

-As would be expected, the book of Genesis shows us the beginning of many things – the universe, life, culture, society, sin and death, religion, nations, languages, and the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.

-But there is one thing Genesis does not reveal the beginning of – God! And that is because God has no beginning. By the very definition of what we mean by God, He’s eternal.

-If God had a beginning, He would not be God because He would owe His existence to something greater – and that would be God.

-The word “God” here in v. 1 is “Elohim” which is the plural form of the generic Hebrew word for God which in the singular is “El.” Elohim is used for God some 2000 times in the OT! That’s a bit shocking when you realize how fiercely the Jews hold to idea of God being  One. Anyone familiar with the Bible knows its straightforward teaching that there is only one God!

-Throughout most of history Christians and Jews have stood out as unique because while the rest of the world believed in many gods, they professed belief in only one. So why do we find the plural title Elohim used here and in so many other places in Scripture? Christians see in the use of the word “Elohim” a clue to the Trinity or the triunity of God.

-As we track through the Scriptures we see that while there is indeed only One God, this God manifests Himself in Three distinct Persons, The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

-The word “created” used here is the Hebrew word “bara” and means “to create out of nothing.’

-In Rom. 4:17 Paul writes – “God calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” That’s what God did in the creation – He called, He spoke, and the universe leapt into existence.

-In Heb. 11:3 we read – “The worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

-Another word is used in Gen. 1 for God’s creative action. It’s the word “asah” and is translated as “make.” It means to fashion something out of pre-existing material.

-Some of God’s creation was merely a molding of what was already there; that’s asah. But occasionally God brings something completely new into existence; that’s bara. Man can only “asah,” he can only take what already is and fashion it into something different. Only God can “bara.”

-The word “heavens” is the Hebrew word “shamayim” and can be translated “space.” “Earth” is “erets” and means “ground.”

-”In the beginning” translates the Hebrew “bereshith” and speaks of that which is first. The beginning here is the first of time.

-Based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, modern science refers to the universe as the space-matter-time continuum. Astrophysicists now understand that the universe came into being at a fixed point, and that space, matter and time are all intimately linked to one another. Genesis 1:1 affirms that and shows it’s origin in the creative act of God.

Genesis 1:2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

-God is not a deity of chaos and disorder. His nature is order and symmetry – so after speaking the basic constituents of the physical universe into existence, He set to work shaping them into an orderly arrangement.

-Here in v. 2 we see that at first matter was formless. There was no light – meaning there was no energy. But then the Spirit of God began to move and shape the matter.

-We read that “the Spirit hovered over the face of the waters.” The word hovered is an interesting choice because it pictures a unique action of moving back and forth. A good modern translation would be “vibrated.” “In the face of” means in the midst of something. And the word for “waters” is even more obscure; it refers to something juicy or soupy.

-What we have in v. 2 is the Spirit of God taking the basic un-energized constituents of the universe from v. 1 and energizing them so that they begin to form into the shapes, structures and forces of our universe.

Genesis 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

-In Hebrew – the language is even simpler. “Elohim said – Light be! Light was!” One of the primary forms of energy God created was electromagnetic energy – light!

-Though it may not be obvious in a casual reading, these first 3 verses of the Bible reveal The Trinity. In v.1 we have the Father birthing and initiating the universe out of nothing. In v.2 we see the Spirit energizing and shaping the raw stuff of the new creation into something useful. And in v.3 we find the Word of God, the Son illuminating the creation.

Genesis 1:4-5 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

-We will now see the process of creation divided into days. Some consider these to be literal 24 hour days. Others see them as pre-scientific descriptions of long ages of time; epochs of earth history. Those who see the days of Genesis 1 as epochs usually try to fit some kind of evolutionary scenario into them.

-I believe what we see here are literal 24 hour days.

My reasons?

1) The text is really pretty straightforward!
It’s obvious the author intended his readers to take these as literal days because he repeats the formula again and again that we see here in v. 5 – “So the evening and the morning were the first day.”

2) Most day-age views are driven by a perceived need to reconcile the theory of evolution to the Creation account of Gen. 1.
They’re an attempt at accommodation to a godless theory, an attempt to harmonize secular science with what ends up being merely a poetic mythology of creation. The theory of evolution is simply really BAD SCIENCE! So to bend and twist scripture to accommodate it is a vain pursuit.

-Dr. Hugh Ross has gained a lot of attention and support for his theory called progressive creationism. This view holds to the day-age theory.

-Here is how Ross himself defines Progressive Creationism – “The hypothesis that God has increased the complexity of life on earth by successive creations of new life forms over billions of years while miraculously changing the earth to accommodate the new life.” Ross rejects the theory of evolution, but he says that the earth has seen many different periods of God’s creative action in setting the world stage, and then bringing increasingly complex flora and fauna, plants and animals onto that stage.

-One stage arises, then dies off and God starts over again. This all takes place over billions of years. Of course, this makes the straight-forward reading of Genesis 1 a meaningless pursuit because there’s no correlation between the scenario of the progressive creationist and what we find here!

-Thus, the Genesis account of Creation is reduced to the place of poetic myth; and when you do that, then you cut the heart right out of the gospel because the work and message of Christ is all based on the events of Genesis 1-3 being literally true.

-One of the clear evidences for the young age of the universe is the earth-sun system. Our sun losses about 1,200,000 tons of mass every second. If you chart that back over billions of years the sun would be too big and too hot to allow the existence of the earth, let alone life on earth.

-Here in vs. 4 and 5 we see God dividing the light and the darkness. These two things He separates into two phases and calls them “Day’ and “Night.’ Since we have a period of light and a period of dark we can infer the earth is now spinning around an axis and there’s some kind of light source shining on earth.

Genesis 1:6-8 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

-The word firmament simply means expanse. This refers to the atmosphere, which is the way the word “heaven” in v. 8 ought to be understood – sky. These verses speak of the firmament standing between the waters.

-There were waters above and beneath it. The waters beneath would be the oceans and seas. The waters above refer to the vapor canopy that existed above the atmosphere at that time.

-It is this vast and dense shell of water we’ll see collapse in ch. 6 that produces the torrential downpour of the Flood.

-One of the things that appears almost mythological in the early chapters of Genesis is the super long ages of people; some living to be over 900 years! Yet immediately after the flood, the lifespan of man declines to about a hundred years.

-Why the major difference in life-expectancy? Well, interestingly, the vapor canopy that existed prior to the flood would have had a number of significant positive effects on earth. The atmospheric pressure would have been significantly higher – leading to more oxygen in the blood stream of humans and animals. The higher pressure would also have retarded the growth of viruses, thus reducing disease. The vapor canopy would have shielded the earth from all the harmful effects of solar and most cosmic radiation. The canopy would have acted like a greenhouse ceiling, allowing for increased plant growth.

-But the canopy allowed sufficient plant growth and nutrition to support all animal life. In fact it proliferated in abundance, as the fossil record and the world’s oil reserves reveal.

Genesis 1:9-13 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13So the evening and the morning were the third day.

-On the 3rd day we see the emergence of dry land and vegetation. It should be noticed that God created plants as fully formed things. The plant was first, with its fruit and seed and coming from it. If God had simply planted the seed in the soil of the earth, it would not have been ready for the birds to eat in 2 days when they were created.

-When God created plants, He made the plant, not the seed first. That means He drew up out of the soil a whole plant. If one of the trees was cut – how many rings would there be in it? Who knows!

-When Adam was created, how old did he look? Don’t know, but he wasn’t an infant. The point is this – at this stage of the creation, God created the first things with an apparent age to them. They were mature and complete – perfect in their creation!

-In fact, as we just saw, the plants were grown in soil. But what is soil; where does dirt come from? It’s the product of the weathering of rocks – a process which takes hundreds of years by normal aging.

-All of this leads us to the conclusion that though the earth is in fact young, it may at points appear aged simply because necessity demands it to.

Genesis 1:14-19 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night;

-”The firmament of the heavens” here is the expanse of space – what we call outer space.

and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

-On the 4th day God created the celestial lights, the stars, planets and the moon. Now we seem to have a problem because vs. 3-5 told us there was light on day 1 before the creation of the sun on day 4 in v. 16. Where was the light coming from before the creation of the sun?

-Quite frankly, we don’t know because we’re not told here. A plausible explanation is that prior to the formation of the sun, God Himself was the light of the world.

-This would be a nice fulfillment of John 1:4 and would coincide with God being the light of the new heavens and earth.

-Notice in v. 14 that the celestial lights were given not only to light the earth but to be for signs and seasons, for days and years. The ancients looked to the heavens as their primary time-piece. The calendar was kept by watching the heavens. This was crucial because they were an agricultural economy and the seasons of sowing and reaping were their life-blood.

-All the ancient cultures had elaborate and accurate records and procedures for calculating the time of year. Because their economy was tied to the time-piece of the skies, astronomy became the first science. It also became one of the first religions for it wasn’t much of a leap in the fallen heart of man to see the stars as exerting power and influence over their lives.

-This may account for the fact why God waited till the 4th day to create the heavenly lights. They aren’t first, but later, after the creation of plants – because God wants to impress upon man that they are just tools He’s created, signs to be used – not deities to be worshipped.

-It’s interesting to discover that the calendar of the ancients was based on a 360 day year. Imagine if it was off what a problem that would be in just a few years to their planting cycle. We see this reflected even today in the 360 degrees of a circle and the 60 seconds of our hour. But a change occurred at some point that added an additional 5¼ days to our year.

-What happened that may added these days to the original calendar will be discussed in later studies of Genesis.

Genesis 1:20-23 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

-On the 5th day we see the creation of marine life and the birds. Note that in v. 21 we have the word created; this is that word bara. We find this word used here because God is doing something totally new and unique – He is creating conscious animal life.

-Notice as well that God blessed the sea creatures and birds and told them to reproduce – filling the earth with their presence. God is in to LIFE! And a part of life is the production of more life.

Genesis 1:24-26 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

-Now we see the land creatures created. The words here describe everything from insects to reptiles and mammals.

-But notice the emphasis on kinds we see throughout this chapter. As God creates the plants and living creatures, He creates them according to their “kinds” and tells them they are to reproduce according to their kinds.

-This is the Holy Spirit’s answer to the theory of evolution which has simpler life forms giving rise to higher and more complex life forms over long periods of time. According to Evolution, life moves from a state of lesser complexity to higher complexity. One species gives rise to another through the process of mutation and the mechanism of natural selection.

-According to Biblical Creation, God created plants and animals in fixed kinds. You may have an abundance of variation within a kind, but it will remain fixed within that basic creature.

-For instance, there are lots of different kinds of dogs. But a dog is a dog is a dog; they all possess the ability to inter-breed. A dog never becomes a cat. And in the fossil record we see no transitional forms between a dog and a cat.

-When Charles Darwin first proposed his Theory of Natural Selection which gave rise to the modern theory of Evolution, the science of paleontology, the study of fossils, was young and the fossil record was sketchy. What was lacking was the transitional forms that evolution demands as proof that one species gives rise to another through mutation and adaptation. Darwin expressed his confidence that as the fossil record was filled in the transitional forms would be found and the gaps in the record would be closed. Armed with this positive outlook, a whole generation of evolutionists went out into the field to discover the missing links.

-But as the fossil record has grown, the gaps have gotten wider, not smaller. This is the very opposite of what the theory of evolution demands.

-If Darwinian evolution is true, then the fossil record has to have an abundance of transitional forms between one species and another – for ALL the forms of plant and animal life we have on the planet today. This ought to be a massive body of fossils.

-If Darwin’s theory is false, then what we expect to find in the fossil record is a lack of transitional forms, and instead we expect to find creatures that just appear fully formed with no antecedent forms. Which do we find?? The latter!

-In fact, because this is what we find in the fossil record, Darwin’s theory has had to be updated to what is now called Punctuated Equilibrium. PE says that species go along for long periods without change, and then shazam – they experience a quantum leap.

-When this idea was first proposed many years ago, the man who invented it was ridiculed and made the laughing stock of the scientific community because it is so patently absurd. Now – it’s the currently accepted theory.

-Despite all these machinations – the text here is very clear – and it squares perfectly with what we find in the real world – that plants and animals remain fixed within their kinds.

-How the Biblical idea of kinds relates to the scientific field of taxonomy is not clear. You may remember the divisions of taxonomy: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

-At what level does a “kind” relate to this system? At the species or genus level? Friends, never forget that the whole taxonomic chart is man-made and artificial. The Bible divides the plant and animal kingdoms up into kinds.

-One of the tricks evolutionists like to use is the example of micro-evolution. We would expect that God would include in the genetic makeup of the plant and animal world the capacity to adapt to a certain degree to its environment. So an animal might show small signs of adaptation, like skin color, or minor structural changes like increased lung capacity or adding on more fur.

-These are what are called micro-evolution, small changes that facilitate an animal or plant living in a different environment. But the plant or animal is still in the same species. Evolutionists use examples of micro-evolution as proof of macro-or cross species evolution. But they are without foundation for there are simply no examples of this kind of change in the evidence at hand.

-A study of the history of evolution shows that Darwin was NOT the originator of the idea; he merely developed a mechanism for it and then popularized it in his book, The Origin of the Species.

-Darwin’s mechanism was “survival of the fittest;” the idea that only the fittest animals survive due to their superiority and winning out over others in the never ending game of competition for food and space. At first glance, this seems reasonable – a kind of common sense reaction.

-But the more time you spend in nature, the more you realize that many things defy this idea. One simple example is the peacock. The peahen is attracted to the peacock with the biggest plumage. Yet the larger the plumage, the more vulnerable the peacock is to predators. So what eats the peacock, can eat the chicks too.

-Or consider the whole development of the male and female. There is simply no evolutionary scenario you can develop that makes the development of the male and female, along with pregnancy or egg laying an advantage.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

-God says, “Let Us” – Who is He speaking to? It can’t be the angels because man isn’t created in the image of angels and we don’t see the angels involved in the creative process. God the Father is speaking here to the other members of the Trinity.

-Man is unique in God’s creation because He bears the image of God. He is patterned after God in ways the animals are not. Man has a moral consciousness; he possesses reason and volition.

-But man has even more than the image of God, that image is in the “likeness” of God as well. Man doesn’t merely possess a moral conscience – he knows right and wrong, good and evil. He doesn’t possess the intellectual capacity of God but His thinking is in the same vein as the thoughts of God.

-It’s this likeness to God that was marred and all but lost in the Fall. Man continues to bear the image of God, but the likeness has been so distorted, so bent that it is often difficult to discern.

-As soon as God registers His intention to make man, He includes that this new thing He is about to create will be over the rest of the creation. It will have dominion over all the animal kingdom. This establishes something new in the creation, a ranking of relationships.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

-The word “created” here is bara. This is only the 3rd time we find the word. It was used in v. 1 of the physical universe; in v. 21 of conscious animal life, and now of mankind. Yet in this verse, bara is used 3 times!

-What’s crucial is that we see that while man may share some of the physiology of the animals he is something new and unique in God’s creative order. He possesses a level of life and existence that is not shared by the animals. The emphasis in this verse is on both the uniqueness of man’s creation and the fact that man is fashioned in God’s image.

-For that reason the final phrase is all the more interesting for it tells us that this image includes both the male and the female. In the Bible we see God in primarily the masculine mold not because He is more like a man than a woman but because it better captures the flavor of our relationship to Him. In other words, as Initiator, He is the Father, we are the children. As the Savior, He is the Groom, we are the Bride and so on.

-But God, in His nature and essence is a combination of all the positive traits of male and female. We see the feminine side of God in such passages as His saying that He would gather His people under His wings as a hen gathers her chicks. [Matt 23:37] We see it when He refers to taking Israel to His bosom and nursing her. [Isa. 49:13-15 66:13] We see it in those passages which speak of God giving birth to Israel. [Deut. 32:18 Job 38:28-29 Isa 46:3-4]

Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

-When God blessed man and woman, He told them to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth. Here’s one of the fields that we need Christians who think biblically to apply themselves. We’re told by many secular environmentalists that mankind is a cancer on the planet and that we need to roll back the population lest we damage the environment irreparably.

-But God said – “Be fruitful and multiply.” Who should we listen to? GOD.

-If man lived by the principles of Biblical justice, equity and stewardship, the planet could easily accommodate several billion more people with no problem or danger to the environment. The threat only comes when people forsake the way of God and pursue their own selfish interests.

Genesis 1:29-30 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so.

-Prior to the flood, the diet of man and animals was vegetarian. It wasn’t till after the flood that God gave man permission to eat In n Out burgers.

Genesis 1:31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

-At the conclusion of each step of the creation, God had given a eulogy-a good word. Now as He looks over the entire scope of the creation – He announces His good pleasure with all He sees – it is VERY good.

-This reinforces and reminds us that the creation is a good thing because it is God’s thing. As His redeemed, we ought to rejoice in its goodness and take delight in it, showing a lost world what it really means to be redeemed to the Creator and His creation.

Taken from a sermon by Pastor Lance Ralston.

According to Mercy

Titus 3:3-8

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

In v. 3, Paul describes us when we were hostages to sin. This is a pretty bleak picture but it’s an accurate one of humanity apart from God.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan laid a trap for Adam and Eve, they fell for it and were taken captive to sin and death. Because of that Fall, all of their descendants are born into a state of sin and are spiritual hostages. Because our captivity begins at conception, we grow up knowing nothing but that captivity and think it normal. We don’t need to be “tied to the chair” because we have no desire to “escape the room!”

In this verse, Paul describes who and what we were before Christ saved us.
– we were fools because we lived as though God did not exist
– we disobeyed the law of God written on our hearts
– we were deceived and could not even see reality for what it is
– we gave ourselves completely to the pursuit of our own pleasure and when anyone got in the way of that pursuit, we got angry
– if someone had more than us, we grew jealous
– we treasured up the hurts life brought us and became bitter and hateful.

Titus 3:4-5a But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,
5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us,

The main idea, the core truth Paul is sharing here is this truth: because of God’s kindness and love, He saved us!

Verse 3 is what man has done – Verse 4 is what God has done! We may deserve judgment and wrath, but God, because He is kind and loving, has shown us mercy instead of judgment.

Mercy means not getting what’s deserved. God’s mercy is more than a feeling, it’s an action. His mercy was made visible by the coming of Jesus Christ who took our place and offered the ransom price to set us free from our captivity.

Hostage rescue is a dangerous business, and sometimes the rescuers pay the ultimate price. Such was the case in the daring rescue of the Jewish hostages at the airport in Entebbe. A jet full of Jewish travelers was hijacked by terrorists and diverted to Uganda. The passengers were taken off the plane and herded in to a terminal at the airport. While Israeli negotiators stalled, a commando team was quickly assembled. Under cover of darkness, in a fast strike, they infiltrated the terminal and took out the terrorists. The only casualty suffered by the rescue team was their commanding officer; he sacrificed his life that the hostages could be free.

Jesus came to set at liberty those who were bound, but at the cost of His own life. His blood was the ransom paid for our freedom.

Did God save us because we were so good and loveable that He was compelled by His sense of justice to save us? Absolutely not!

V. 3 makes it very clear who and what we were before He saved us. No, God saved us, BECAUSE HE IS KIND AND LOVING, not because we are worthy or deserving.

Titus 5:5-7 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It’s not BY works of righteousness we’ve done, but ACCORDING to His mercy that He saved us.

If we were saved BY mercy, then it would mean that God’s mercy is the agent of our salvation. But mercy isn’t what saves us – Jesus saves us! It’s His work on the cross that’s the effectual means of our salvation. God’s mercy is what moves Him to apply Christ’s work to us.

When Paul says that God saves us ACCORDING to His mercy, he’s speaking about how far that salvation goes. God’s ABILITY to save us comes through the finished work of Jesus Christ, but He’s MOVED to save us because He is merciful and kind! That mercy, because it is God’s mercy, is perfect and inexhaustible.

In Psalm 136, 26 times the Psalmist tells us “His mercy endures forever.” His salvation will see us safely to the heavenly shore, free from the threat and danger of sin. In Phil 1:6, Paul says, “I’m confident of this very thing; that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it.”

Lamentations 3:22-23 says
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

Every morning when you rise, a fresh supply of mercy is available to you; yesterday’s failures do not “use up” God’s supply of mercy and grace, they are new every morning.

Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

Paul made it crystal clear in v. 5 that we are not saved by good works, but this verse gives us the right perspective on the role of good works in the Christian life.

While we aren’t saved BY works – we are saved TO them!

It is not lost on the world how arrogant Christians can come across sometimes. All too often we come across as self-righteous and superior, we look down our noses at the lost. We forget that the salvation we now enjoy is NOT the result of our own work and goodness but God’s work and goodness. We forget that we are saved by grace, according to the mercy of God. Instead of the most profound humility toward God and tenderness toward others, we come off as strident and haughty.

Listen, if we’ve been truly saved, if we’ve been rescued from captivity to the sin mentioned in v. 3 to the life described in vs. 4-7, then the mercy that marks God will come to mark us.

If we’re saved according to His mercy, then we’ll become a people OF mercy; not pride, nor arrogance, nor superiority.

Besides the mercy and humility we ought to show to the lost, what about one another within the Body of Christ. If we are those redeemed by grace, then where is the grace toward one another? If we are saved according to God’s mercy, then where is the mercy toward one another when we fail one another?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s be careful that we don’t put a heavy yoke on those who are new to the faith and demand that they suddenly adopt a lifestyle of total holiness and complete compliance to what we think is fitting and proper.

Of course God calls us to holiness, but the means He has given us of getting there is loving support and fellowship. All too often the church becomes a seething cauldron of gossip and criticism as people pass judgment on one another. Just as the kindness and love of God appeared in the person of Jesus Christ, God wants Jesus Christ to become visible in the quality of life of His people, especially as we gather with one another in fellowship

As we live according to the mercy of God, we do what v. 8 says. The salvation of God becomes visible through our lives. The Bible reveals the Word of God in black and white. But when we LIVE what this says, then the Word of God is revealed in all the colors of the rainbow.

Based on a sermon by Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

The Seduction of Sin

Judges 16:4-21

Judges 16:4 “After this it came about that he [Samson] loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.”

-Samson over and over again pursued not the godly Jewish women, but he had a weakness for the “bad girls” (the Palestinian women). We see here that he was walking in the valley of Sorek, which was a Palestinian settlement, so he knew he would encounter things he should have stayed away from.

-Although he knew that God commanded His people to steer clear of cohorting with “pagans”, here we see Samson willingly PUTTING himself in a situation where he would be able to watch and meet Palestinian women (thus disobeying God’s command).

-It’s interesting to note that Delilah is a name derived from the Hebrew word “dalal” which literally means to bring low, to be emptied. As we will see, Delilah certainly DID cause Samson to be “brought low” and she emptied him.

-There’s a big lesson to be learned here…if you know you have a weakness for something that God forbids, don’t even put yourself in a situation where you can fall….don’t even go there. The best way to resist temptation is to flee from it…to steer clear of those situations, places, environments, and people who will cause us to fall into temptation. If you have a propensity toward alcoholism, stay away from bars or parties where people are drinking. If you have a tendency to fall into sexual sin, stay clear of movies, TV shows, and internet sites which have scenes that would incite that lust within you; stay clear of even those who talk about sex and joke about it. If you have a habit of using bad language, stop filling your senses with things where people are using that kind of language. Bottom line, if you know your weakness, don’t place yourself in a place where you can fall. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.

-Samson was called to be a Nazirite, which meant that he was dedicated to and belonged to the Lord. But Samson was more devoted to fulfilling his own pleasures than he was in serving and trying to please the Lord. He seems to think that the rules that apply to all others don’t apply to him.

Judges 16:5-6 “The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you.”

-Delilah doesn’t hide her intentions, she got right to the point in telling Samson that she wanted him to be subdued so she could destroy him. But Samson probably didn’t take her seriously and considered this some sort of sexual playing around.

-We read this and think, “Come on Samson, don’t be an idiot. Get out of there!” But how often we do the same thing. We see moral danger coming our way…we know we’re going to fall and be destroyed by it, but we do it anyway because there’s something within us that always seems to want to dance with danger.

-Take note, the devil does not want to bless you or bring you anything good. He uses temptation to destroy us and tear us down. It is our destruction he ultimately wants to see, no matter how enticing he makes giving into temptation seem or how magnanimous he makes himself out to be.

Judges 16:7-9 “Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.”
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now she had men lying in wait in an inner room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the cords as a string of tow snaps when it touches fire. So his strength was not discovered.”

-Looking deeper into this verse, we see that Samson had to have been asleep when she bound the cords to him because she called out to him after she was done. If he had been awake the whole time, she would not have had to call out his name.

-It’s no secret how he ended up asleep in her presence either. She gave him what he wanted, and in his exhaustion afterwards he fell to sleep. So we see here that Samson was allowing himself to be ensnared by her through his sexual sins. He knew God’s commands and he knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he insisted on doing it anyway.

Judges 16:10-14 “Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have deceived me and told me lies; now please tell me how you may be bound.”
11 He said to her, “If they bind me tightly with new ropes which have not been used, then I will become weak and be like any other man.”
12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” For the men were lying in wait in the inner room. But he snapped the ropes from his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies; tell me how you may be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web and fasten it with a pin, then I will become weak and be like any other man.”
14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web. And she fastened it with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the loom and the web.

-In verse 14, the web was undoubtedly the cloth which Delilah was weaving in a loom. The pin was the object with which the braided locks were fastened to the web. She probably wove his hair into the cloth. No doubt he would have been in a pretty deep sleep in order to do this. Possibly he was even intoxicated, which was a direct violation of his Nazirite vow since those who took this vow were forbidden from drinking any wine or anything alcoholic. This just comes to show that one sin will ALWAYS lead to another…sometimes in a completely unrelated area of your life.

-Notice also the the more he fudges about the “secret” to his strength, the closer and closer he gets to telling the truth of it. We see him willingly walking down his own path of destruction as he continues to refuse to leave Delilah and the Palestinian regions and, thus, flee from the causes of his sin.

-If there was any doubt in his mind that Delilah was not serious, there certainly is none now. She has proven over and over again that she is being used by the other Palestinians to destroy him. He’s been attacked now everytime she actually does to him what he says would bring him down. But he continues to play with fire and dance with danger. Possibly it was his pride? Maybe he had put so much faith in his strength that he had now forgotten, or even was not taking God seriously enough when the Lord had told him not to cut his hair or else the power the Lord gave him would leave. This just comes to show that pride is truly the root of all sin.

Judges 16:15-17 “Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.”
16 It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.
17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.”

-So now Samson is annoyed. You would think by now that in being annoyed, he would be sick of playing these games with her and would decide to now do the right thing and just leave. But he didn’t. He not only did not leave, but he gave in and told her his secret. He revealed to her what he knew would bring about his destruction.

-Samson had become so steeped in his own sins that he had become numb to their dangers. This is true even for us today. We can get so used to living in sin, that we slowly start to view it as not so wrong anymore, and if we continue, we eventually become so numb to the Spirit’s voice in our conscience telling us to turn away and repent, that we have completely shut Him out. This, my friends, is dangerous, even deadly.

-When we give into temptation, it becomes easier to give into it again and again and again and… until eventually we are so far down that road that we can no longer control ourselves…the sin completely takes over.

Judges 16:18-21 “When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands.
19 She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him.
20 She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.”

-Samson had gone so far from the Lord in his sin, that he wasn’t even aware when the Lord left him. He had fallen so far away from God and His presence, that he had lost all sense and direction in his spiritual life…and didn’t even recognize when God had turned away.

-There comes a point where God will stop pursuing you and calling out to you, and you will be left to your sin. If you do not know the Lord, your fate is then sealed. You are spiraling down the path of destruction to hell and you have hardened your heart toward God and there is no turning back.

-Samson had come to expect the grace of God to help him no matter what he did in his life or no matter how often or how much he insisted on living in sin. But Samson woke up to realize that God’s grace had left him. You see, we do not deserve God’s grace. The whole concept of grace is giving what is undeserved. If we continue to expect His grace, take advantage of it, and continue living in sin without repentance, God’s grace will leave us and we will be left to the destruction of the sin we have allowed to infiltrate our lives and hearts.

-All Samson had to do was get up and get out of there, but he didn’t…he insisted on doing what he wanted to do and ignoring what God desired for him, and the Lord removed His presence from Samson as a result.

-Samson’s life story is really the story of a backslider. Read and learn from his example: you are NOT going to get away with sin. The consequences WILL find you out and you cannot hide it from the Lord or expect that the Lord is always going to be gracious to you. There comes a time when we can push Him away so far that He will leave us to the destruction we’ve brought upon ourselves. Don’t let yourself get to that point. See your sin and the dangers of living in it for what it is, repent and turn back!

-The ONLY way to defeat sin is to give it up to Christ. Rely on Him, surrender your life to Him. Lay hold of the grace of God, leave Sorek, flee from Delilah’s house, and escape your own destruction.

Better than others?

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

The word for “selfishness” was eritheian which appeared in chapter 1:17 to describe those who opposed Paul. Without question such behavior is of the flesh and not of the Spirit (Galations 5:20). Along with “empty conceit”, the two negatives are followed by a postive exhortation: “regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God needs to strive for. A spirit of pride in human relations indicates a lack of humility before God. Paul is thus exhorting the Philippians to consider others before themselves.

Paul explained how humility can be expressed (philippians 2:4). Instead of concentrating on self, each believer should be concerned for the interests of others in the household of faith (cf. Romans 12:10). Preoccupation with oneself is sin.

Now I find myself being guilty of thinking myself better than others, particularly non believers when they are steeped in sin….I find thoughts like, “At least i’m not doing THAT!” or thinking that just because I’m a child of God that that makes me so much better than those who’re not. And I know i’m not the only one who struggles with thoughts of thinking us better than others BECAUSE we’re not steeped in sin and BECAUSE we have the victory over that. But in your rejoicing over your victory and freedom from sin’s bondage, be careful not to start thinking yourself BETTER than those who ARE still bound. Paul’s telling us that we are NOT to think ourselves BETTER than others no matter how steeped in sin or evil that other person is…we must remember that God once viewed us as just as evil and sinful before we were redeemed (even IF we never did anything as “bad” as that other person). In our victory in Christ, let us not become arrogant and snub our noses and look down on those who do not have that same victory, or maybe other brothers and sisters, even, who may not have the same gifts we do or maybe their gifts are seen as not being as “powerful” as our gifts are. Remember that the world’s view of greatness is not God’s. Those who labor in prayer in their bedrooms for ministry leaders, those unknown “unnamed” prayer warriors, those whose names the world does not know, they just may possibly be the ones who are seen as greater in the eyes of God than even well known evangelists, or those famous propheciers, or “miracle workers” who the world sees as “great men of God.” Remember that in God’s eyes, the greatest gifts of all aren’t the “sign” gifts (the tongues, the healings, the prophecy, even being raised from the dead…all those gifts that baffle and awe those here on earth)…no….to God the greatest of ALL gifts is love and He urges us to pursue that above all other gifts.

If we cannot practice humble attitudes with each other, then how can we be humble before God? If we cannot live in humility with each other, if we insist on thinking ourselves greater than others for whatever reason, and voicing an arrogance and pride, then we are in direct disobedience to God and His commands.

Now Christ offers such a wonderful example of humility and it’s illustrated beautifully in

Philippians 2:5-8 our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

In verse 5, believers are exhorted to have the same attitude–selfless humility–Christ exhibited in His humiliation and condescension. In verses 6 and 7 Paul is saying that Christ Jesus is of the very essence of God, and in His incarnation he embraced perfect humanity. His complete and absolute deity is carefully stressed by Paul here. The Savior’s claim to deity infuriated the Jewish leaders (John 5:18) and caused them to accuse Him of blasphemy (John 10:33).

Though POSSESSING full deity (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9), Christ did not consider His equality with God as something to be held onto. Christ did not hesitate to set aside His self-willed use of deity when He became a man. As God He had all the rights of deity, and yet during His incarnation state He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of all splendor and glory.

Christ’s humiliation included His making Himself nothing, taking the very nature (form) of a servant, and being made in human likeness. These statements indicate that Christ became a man, a true human being. The Greek says that He “emptied Himself” which denotes a divesting of His self-interests, but not of His deity. The word “likeness” suggests similarity but difference. Though His humiliation was genuine, He was different from all other humans in that He was sinless (Hebrews 4:15).

Thus it is seen that Christ, while retaining the essence of God, was also human. In His incarnation He was FULLY God and FULLY man at the same time. He was God manifest in human flesh (John 1:14).

Some have wrongly taught that the phrase “being found in appearance as a man” means that He only LOOKED human. But this contradicts verse 7 which says that He literally by very NATURE was human also.

The condescension of Christ included not only His birth, but also His death. And it was the most cruel and despicable form of death which was limited to non Romans and the worst criminals.

No better example of humiliation and a selfless attitude for believers to follow could possibly be given than that of Christ. With this example before them, the saints at Philippi would be “like-minded” (as was used in Philippians 2:2) and live humbly before their God and each other.

So, since Christ who, if ANYONE has full right to Lord it over anybody else, truly DID have the right to be and act as if He was better than ALL…since He having this right did not take advantage of that right while He was here on earth…then what makes us any different? We are to follow Christ’s example in all things…even in His humility and His servant hood. He had full rights to glorify Himself and act better than all other humans, but instead He humbled Himself and became a servant, not lording His rights to deity over anyone. Now although we are not divine, we as children of God should never in thought or action consider ourselves to be better than others, if those others so prove to act and think in an ungodly manner. It’s a hard thing to do, to consider others as better than us no matter HOW they act…but it is something that God expects of us and it is something that Christ Himself did….so we must strive to be living examples of His humility.

What is Hindering Us?

Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. 2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.”

and

2 Peter 1:3 “As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!”

The verse in Hebrews really spoke to me…showing me that it is imperative for our spiritual growth that we shed off all things which are hindering us (we MUST put aside those sins which our blocking our path to God and we must sacrifice even our own desires if our desires are what is hindering us).

And the verse in 2 Peter shows me that all we need for living a godly life is found in Jesus. He has the power to make us godly people…we only need to shed off those things which hinder us and draw upon Christ’s strength and power and we will be spiritually successful in all we do.

We are not to just lay aside the sin; we also are to lay aside the weight. We Christians need to periodically ask ourselves this question about the uncertain areas of our lives: Is it a wing or is it a weight?
Does it speed us on our way in our spiritual walk, in the race we run? Or is it a weight–something that is slowing us down?

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

And let us run with endurance…keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish (Hebrews 12:2 NLT)

We are to run this difficult life with endurance….and how best can we persevere when we have to run through swamp or that mountainous terrain? We need to turn our eyes heaven-ward and keep our eyes on Jesus.

That’s what gave Stephen courage when he had to stand before his accusers who were ready to put him to death. He was given a glimpse of Jesus in heaven and declared, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Acts 7:56 NLT). Seeing this brief glimpse of Jesus gave Stephen the endurance he needed to run his race and finish it.

It is important….no….vital to keep our eyes on Jesus. Why? Because life will always disappoint us….circumstances will never always go “our way”, and at times the things that happen to us in life can devastate us and the people around us. Others are certain to let us down and they fall short of our expectations….feelings and emotions come and go and too often people act upon the emotions of the moment, forgetting the consequences that may lay ahead. But throughout all these tragedies, Jesus is always there looking out for us….interceding for us before the Father in heaven. He has run the race before we ever existed….He has run and He has been declared victorious! He is the ultimate winner and is willing and able to show US how to run….but in order for us to hear Him….we must keep looking to Him and abiding in Him…and we too will finish the race with victory!

While writing this, i’m reminding of that song (here’s a blast from the past for me) “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face, and the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

Reflections on 1 John 3

Some verses that stuck out to me during my Bible time.

1 John 3:4-5 (NLT) Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God. 5And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him. 6So if we continue to live in him, we won’t sin either. But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.

There is a difference between committing a sin and continuing to sin. Even the most faithful believers commit sins at times, but they do not cherish a particular sin and choose to commit it. A believer who commits a sin repents, confesses, and finds forgiveness. A person who continues to sin, by contrast, is not sorry for what he or she is doing. Thus, this person never confesses and never recieves forgiveness. Such a person is in opposition to God, no matter what religious claims he or she makes.

Because Jesus lived a perfect life and sacrificed Himself for our sins, we can be completely forgiven. We can look back to his death for us and know that we need never suffer eternal death (1 Peter 1:18-20).

1 John 3:8-9 But when people keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the Devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil. 9Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God.

We all have areas where temptation is strong and habits are hard to conquer. These weaknesses give satan a foothold in our lives, so we must deal with our areas of vulnerability. If we are struggling with a particular sin, however, these verses are not directed at us, even if at the time we seem to keep on sinning. John is not talking about people whose victories are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify it. Three things can be used to find vicotry over prevailing sin: 1) seek the power of the Holy Spirit and plug into God’s Word; 2) stay away from tempting situations; 3) seek the help of the body of Christ–be open to their willingness to hold you accountable and to pray for you.

“They can’t keep on sinning” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning, nor do they become indifferent to God’s moral law. All believers still sin, but they are working to gain victory over sin.

1 John 3:12-13 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was right. 13So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

Cain killed his brother, Abel, when God accepted Abel’s offering and not his (Genesis 4:1-16). Abel’s offering showed that Cain was not giving his best to God, and Cain’s jealous anger drove him to murder. People who are morally upright expose and shame those who aren’t. If we live for God, the world will often hate us, because we make them painfully aware of their immoral way of living.

1 John 3:19-20 It is by our actions that we know we are living in the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before the Lord, 20even if our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Many people feel guilty because they think they are not doing enough to show proper love for Christ. Their consciences bother them. John has these people in mind in these verses. How can we escape the gnawing accusations of our consciences? Not by ignoring them or rationalizing our behavior but by setting our heart on God’s love for us. When we feel guilty, we should remind ourselves that God knows our motives as well as our actions. His voice of assurance is stronger than the accusing voice of our conscience. If we are in Christ, He will not condemn us (Romans 8:1; Hebrews 9:14-15).

Overcoming Fear

2 Timothy 1:6-7 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

– As Christians, we’re called to live lives that are distinctly different from the world and one of the ways we can demonstrate that distinction is by overcoming the fear that seems to characterize the lives of so many today.

– In v. 6, Paul tells Timothy to “stir up” the gift of God which was in him. “Stir up” is literally, “fan into flame” and pictures the act of sticking a poker into a fire to knock the ashes off the coals and re-awaken the flames. Time and circumstances had conspired to cool Timothy’s zeal. His devotion was less hot, less fervent than before. How often we Christians struggle with that very same thing.

– In Verse 7 the spirit that is being referred to is the Holy Spirit and this Spirit does not bring fear, on the contrary – the Spirit of God brings power, love, and a sound mind. This word for “fear” (deilia) in v. 7 is used only here in the Bible, it means cowardice; it’s the kind of fear that hinders a person from doing what’s right for fear of personal harm; it’s a weak kind of shamefulness that makes one ignore his/her duty.

– “Deilia” is the perfect word for Paul to use in light of the context. Let me jump to v. 8 to put this into context,

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God

– Paul sends Timothy this strong exhortation because he knows it’s his natural inclination to become fearful in the face of difficulties. But Paul wants to remind Timothy that being a Christian means moving out of the natural into the supernatural. Sure it’s natural for Timothy to be afraid but now he’s a new creature in Christ and he needs to appropriate who and what he really is.

– The moment he was born again, he received a gift from God – the Holy Spirit who came to set up permanent residence within him, and THAT is what Timothy is to stir up – the new person he really was IN CHRIST!

– Paul is telling Timothy to get the right perspective – no matter what the world throws at him he has resources so far above and beyond the challenges of this world that they pale in comparison.

– Rather than imparting a cowardly fear, the Holy Spirit who indwells Timothy provides power ( it’s the Greek word “dunamis” from which we get our word dynamic and dynamite) it speaks of the kind of power that’s able to do things in such a way that it’s not exhausted or used up.

– Timothy faced a fear that would hinder his witness for fear of bearing shame for the sake of Christ. Paul says such cowardice is not of God – rather, boldness to testify of Jesus is the Spirit’s work.

– Why do we live so timidly – what are we afraid of? Death? Christians never die – they only go home. Are we afraid of rejection? – We are accepted in the beloved! Are we afraid of being misunderstood and made fun of? – God knows us and will vindicate us in the Last Day when He puts a royal robe on our shoulders and a crown of victory on our heads.

– If we really grasped the greatness of God’s love, we would never be fearful again. In 1 John 4:18, John writes “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

 Being fearful is a sign that we are not resting in faith in the love and power of God.

– The Spirit is also One who brings us a sound mind, the word literally means to be sober, but as Paul uses it here it speaks of the kind of mind that isn’t tossed about and filled with the confusion fear produces. Fear attacks the mind and conjures up all kinds of confusing thoughts. The Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Truth, dispels the shadows fear plays on the walls of our minds. He produces in us a mind that sees things as they really are and then empowers us to live within that reality. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth who shows us what it real and enables us to live within that reality.

– Friends, here is what is real . . .
– Jesus Christ is Lord over all!
– In His death He defeated sin and in His resurrection He conquered death!
– There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God – nothing.
– There is no foe Jesus hasn’t already beaten and no battle he hasn’t already won.
– There is no challenge, obstacle, trouble, trial, or pain than can exhaust His power.
– That’s reality – our reality and it’s the way we ought to live!

– You and I don’t need to read any more books or attend any more conferences in order to be better Christians and live more victorious lives.
All we need to do is be what in fact we already are!

– Remember what Paul said to Timothy – God has already given us the Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. All of this is already ours – we simply need to turn away from our own natural inclinations to the new person we are in Christ.

– We need to fan into flame the work of the Spirit in our lives. The way we do this is by asking the Lord to open our eyes to who and what we really are in Christ. Romans 8:12-16 states “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors”not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 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. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit THAT WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD.

– Next time you are tempted to be timid, lustful, angry, whatever your challenge is, remember who you really are – and that that temptation, that bondage, is a mark of what you used to be, not who you now are.

Adapted from a study by Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

The Danger of Compromise

Mark 9:43-50

v.43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-
v.44where “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

-In verse 44, Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 66:24, speaking of the judgment of hell.

v.45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched-
v.46 “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’
v.47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire-

v.48 where “Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

-In three rounds of hyperbole, Jesus issues a bold challenge to personal, practical holiness. It was a common form of Jewish moral teaching to use hyperbole, or exaggerate speech to make a point.

-Jesus obviously did not call for literal amputation of a hand, foot, or eye, because we don’t sin with just one of each. The problem isn’t our hands, eyes or feet; it’s our hearts and what they long for.

-Jesus’ point is obvious by the use of this hyperbole - TAKE DRASTIC ACTION TO ENSURE THAT YOU DO NOT FALL INTO SIN!

-Who cares if others consider you a religious zealot! If you do what you do because you want to walk in purity before your God, who gives a darn what anyone else says???

-You see, Jesus marks the inevitable progression that comes if we allow compromise. If we tolerate a little sin, like a weed, it can grow to take over the whole field of our hearts, and then, we stand in danger of being lost.

-Jesus is stating clearly here that if we are not radical in our pursuit of holiness, then YES - hell awaits!

-Christian - Don’t dabble with sin.
– Don’t live a compromised life.
– Don’t leave some little indiscretion unrepented of.
– Don’t adopt a lazy and causal attitude toward immorality.
– Draw the line well back from sin, not along the edge of danger.

v.49 “For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.

-A day of judgment is coming - even for Christians. No, we will not be punished for our sins, but we WILL be judged for our rewards. Paul explains this well in

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

-We may be able to fool the people around us, but the Lord will not be fooled. He sees and knows where we are compromised in our lives.

v. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”

– “Have salt in yourself’ means, “Don’t make moral compromises.”

-This is the great danger and condition of the Church in America today. Because we do not face persecution and we live in the midst of such incredible prosperity and opportunity, it is easy to adopt worldly values and priorities that conflict with the values and priorities of the Kingdom. And the whole time we can look to our brothers and sisters in Christ as though we’re doing fine.

-As we’re flipping around the stations on the TV, something comes on the screen that the Spirit tells us to turn off. But the flesh says, “Hey  –  hold on, don’t be such a prude! What’s the problem with just looking. You’re not hurting anyone. And it’s not like this is going to lead to something worse.” And besides, as a Christian, you ought to be informed as to this kind of stuff. Yeah, that’s it; this is research to help you be a better witness.”

-The result of that kind of slight compromise is the dulling of your spiritual edge, and the greasing of the skids of your moral sense so that it will be easier next time to make the same or an even more dangerous choice.

-My pastor calls this “decisional inertia.” The more choices you make to compromise, the easier compromise becomes.

-Conversely, the more you choose righteousness, the easier it becomes to continue in that course.

-Be a “salty” Christian - one with some spiritual backbone and strength.

-Don’t be a “powder-Christian” - one who’s so mired in compromise that when a spiritual challenge comes, you have nothing to offer.

Adapted from a study by Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.