Subject: The Christian Walk
in a Sinful World
Topics Covered: Daniel & His 3 Friends,
Examples of Bad Christian Leadership,
Biblical Definition of the word “Heart“,
Christ’s Example of Humility,
A Grammatical Breakdown of Phil. 2:5-8,
Thinking & Feeling,
Essence vs. Attributes
“Meek,” the Biblical Understanding of the Word
The Christian walk: Introspection, Developing Humility, and Fighting Pride
A Story by Golda Meir
Acting & Being, The Difference in “Being” Authentic Compared to External Displays
We are to be Led by our Mind, Not our Emotions
Controlling our Minds, Dwelling upon that which is Good, Taking Every Thought Captive
Defining: Denying Yourself and Picking up your Cross, Daily
Slavery and the Biblical Definition of a “Bond Slave”
My Own Bad Example as a Less Mature Christian
My Later Application of the Lessons Learned from God’s Word
How to go Through Secular College with Honors, Without Compromising your Biblical Principles
See – Choose – Do
Endnote: Psychology – Why it has Gained its Credibility
Endnote: Psychology – Its History in a Nutshell
Endnote: Psychology – When Mixed with Christianity
Endnote: The Difference between Attributes & Essence, How Christ was all God & all Man
Endnote: Apologetics – A Rudimentary Example of External Biblical Evidence
Endnote: Black Liberation Theology, and Christian Liberals.
Introduction (created: 01-2012)
Currently, I am on paid staff at a major North Texas hospital as a chaplain. Chaplaincy, both as paid staff member and as a volunteer worker has been something I’ve done for the last few decades. However, on the purely secular side of life, I entered my third secular profession over a decade ago which is within the mental health profession. My field is chemical dependency, I am a LCDC (License Chemical Dependency Counselor), and a CCJP (Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional). My training was in classical psychology, specializing on the clinical aspects of treatment. This is not to say that I practice psychology or support any of its presuppositions; I don’t (See Endnote #1). However, throughout my endeavor in this occupation I have learned how to survive: within a secular unbelieving industry (See Endnote #2), within the structures of atheistic higher education, and how to function under the limitations of being a state employee; yet all without compromising my Christian beliefs (no I am not talking about utilizing what is referred to as “Christian Psychology,” which is as fraudulent concerning the mixing of Christianity and psychology as the mixing of oil and water. See Endnote #3).
Being a Daniel in a Nebuchadnezzar Type of World
A good biblical example of how this is done is seen in Daniel and his three friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah) who when faced with the secular demands of they’re day as seen in the types and preparation of food that they ate, held to they’re beliefs and did not eat of the King’s food in violation of their conscience.
However, these wise men did not make demands, display condescension or superiority, or attempt to muscle their way concerning their convictions, they simply stopped eating; and were willing to suffer for their beliefs by starving themselves at the same time that they were presented with some of the most elegant and extravagant food known to man at that time. It’s one thing to starve when there’s no food to tempt you. It’s another thing to starve when you have nothing but great food in your pantry; cakes, cookies, and candy; steaks vegetables and fruits; homemade bread of every variety. Yet, these individuals abstained while sitting at the table with some of the greatest foods prepared of the day. This was suffering.
Then, as their keeper noticed that they were not eating they did not take a demonstrative stand displaying pride or arrogance, they simply explained their belief, and then respectively suggested to their keeper that their dietary requirements would suit them better, and that a test might prove the point. There submission is seen in their willingness to suffer (to hunger, even if death if that was necessary because of refusing an order of the king to eat his food) for what they believed in as well as their submissive behavior. Yet, because their behavior was not outright arrogant brashness, for which they would’ve lost their head, a test was allowed to occur proving the superiority of their own diet. We will come back to this later under the heading: “The Lessons to Learn.”
Today’s Type of Example
Very often within Christian circles we see leaders who display proud arrogance, who attempt to power thrust their way through any opposition; using intimidation, grandiosity, and self-righteous superiority; in order to win at any cost. They attempt to use emotional-based types of presentations in order to whip their audience into an emotive state in order to manipulate them into submission. It is the use of the emotions that these heretics, false prophets, and wolves in sheep’s clothing utilize to motivate and control their followers. The Bible repeatedly advises us to use our minds, not our emotions in order to do God’s Will according to His Word. It is with our minds that we handle God’s Word in dealing with our daily walk (the biblical use of the word “heart” which as I have repeatedly stated, never means the emotions only; but in both the Greek and Hebrew languages refers to the internal makeup of man. The order of priority is the: 1) mental reasoning, 2) emotional response, 3) willpower in making decisions between the two. We’re never told to emotionally respond to any situation, with the exception of worship and adulation to God. Search out the original Hebrew and language word studies if you feel any different – this is not subject to interpretation is a fact based upon the language and the meanings of the words. See the essay entitled: “The Heart and the Mind – What the Biblical word “Heart’ Means“), yet these individuals display flamboyant presentations, using emotionally driven, experientially derived language in order to motivate and drive their audiences, merely to promote their own agendas. It is unfortunate that the Bible becomes a prop in their hands to validate their own presuppositions, as opposed to the Bible being their guide that they follow.
When ever these individuals address the powers that be, rather in the forms of our governmental structure, our political system, are schools of higher education, or any other secular institution; they utilize power and intimidation which is merely a display of their own egos and pride, as opposed to humility and submission based upon faith in the God they profess to believe in. This is never to say that we should allow ourselves to be abused to the extent that we allow evil to run rampant, this has more to do with the attitude that we display to the world when we confront them, as we are never just to allow evil to exist or grow.
It is Christ that is our best example of how to be in the world, but not a part of the world (John 15:19). Understanding that He is the Divine Son of God, sinless; and that we will never even come close to His example; yet He is our best source to attempt to follow as best as we can. How often have we seen spiritual leaders filled with self-righteous indignation demand that their enemies submit to our own belief systems. This is NOT what Christ came and did. Concerning Christ, a simple reading of Philippians 2:5-8 paints an amazing picture.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Please allow me to share a few insights concerning this passage.
Concerning the word “mind“,consider the following passages:
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart [which includes primarily the mind, as well as the emotions and the will], be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psa 19:14
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart [which includes primarily the mind, as well as the emotions and the will], that I might not sin against thee” Psa. 119:11
“Keep* thy heart [which includes primarily the mind, as well as the emotions and the will] with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” Pro. 4:23
*”Keep” (nasar) = “guard.” A verb meaning to guard, to keep, to observe, to preserve, to hide. The word refers to people’s maintaining things entrusted to them, especially to keeping the truths of God in both actions and mind
“be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” Rom. 12:2
“…bringing into captivity every thought” 2 Corth. 10:5
“forgetting those things which are behind…” Php. 3:13
“…think on these things” Php. 4:8
“…gird up the loins of your mind” 1 Pet. 1:13
Concerning the doctrine that Christ is fully man and fully God.
First we know that the Scripture says that “God is not a man, that he should lie, ” (Numbers 23:19); yet those that would espouse that Jesus maintained His divine attribute of Omnipotent (“All Powerful, Visible & Invisible.”), naïvely accuse God of breaking His Word, because here in Philippians (Php. 2:7-8), it unequivocally it states that Jesus became a man in every sense of the word, yet a sinless man.
And for those that would say that Jesus being sinless would not make him fully man, ignore the fact that Adam was fully man and he was created sinless until his fall. So Jesus could be fully man, and yet sinless at the same time, and exactly fulfill this passage.
One of the phrases in the Philippians passage is, “and was made [Greek: ginomai,” to become”] in the likeness [Greek; homoioma, “a figure,” “image,” “likeness,” “representation,” i.e. resemblance such as amounts almost to a quality or identity” ~ again this addresses the essence of Jesus being God and not the outward manifestations of attribute] of men: And being found in fashion [Greek: schema, “The habitus, as comprising everything in a person which strikes the senses, the figure, bearing, discourse, actions, manner of life etc.” ~ this is his attributes – and proves the fact that he did not have Omnipotent power] as a man,”
When it says that Jesus “took upon him the form [Greek: mophe, “the form by which the person or thing strikes the vision” or external appearance” ~ this refers to a being’s outward attributes, not their inward essence, such as supernatural power] of a servant,” what does that mean? A King is a King, and a servant is a servant; and a servant never exercises the powers of a King.
What about the analogy of the “The Prince and the popper,” as a rationality that Jesus look like a man, yet maintained His power. This would overlook the fact that when the Prince traded places with the popper, he did not have the power of a Prince. In fact, it was not until he traded places again that he would regain the power of a Prince. If the prince, who had traded places with the popper, walked up to a soldier and gave him an order, the soldier would have laughed, because a popper doesn’t have the power of the Prince. And if Jesus was to become a servant it would be a charade if He had the power of God, and acted like He was defenseless. Also see Isa. 53:3, “The Suffering Servant” of God, who lived in poverty & need, relying solely on God in faith.
Essence vs. Attributes ~ Jesus was all God and all Man
It is our understanding that Jesus, the Divine eternal Logos (Greek: “word,” or “communication of…”) of God (John 1:1), became fully man and was fully God. this would appear to be an impossibility, a contradiction in terms. However if we understand the difference between attributes and essence, we gain the understanding of how this could be No.
It is whenever we dig deep into the original languages of the Bible that we glean a much clearer understanding of what is stated. One such example can be found in the use of the word “meek,” both as it is utilized in the Hebrew of Numbers 12:3, in reference to Moses; yet more importantly concerning the study at hand when the same word is used of Jesus as found in Matthew 11:29 , which states:
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Unlike the English understanding of the word, the word “meek,” in the Greek meek means: “power under control,” in reference to the passages concerning Moses (those that say that he stammered and was weak or powerless, seem to gloss over the display of how powerful and dominant his personality really was as seen in the exodus of Israel. The incident at the burning bush is a display of his humility, not any weakness) and Jesus. How do we come to this. Utilizing the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, and the Byzantine Greek translation of the New Testament; the two words for “meek” used are synonyms in their root.
“for I am meek” (praos) [G4235] – Matt. 11:29 ~ Taken from the New Testament Greek Textus Receptus
“Moses was very meek” (praus) [G4239] – Num. 12:3 ~ Taken from the Old Testament Greek Septuagint
If we utilize the Old Testament Hebrew Masoretic Text in examining Numbers 12:3, the Hebrew word translated “meek” in the English is from the Hebrew word, “anaw,” (Strong’s # 6035).
According to Vine’s Hebrew Dictionary: “anaw is translated, humble; poor; meek.” “Anaw” appears almost exclusively in poetical passages and describes the intended outcome of affliction from God, namely “humility.” In its first appearance the word depicts the objective condition as well as the subjective stance of Moses “who was entirely dependent on God.”
In the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, called the Septuagint (which Jesus mainly quoted from), the Greek word (praus) is translated from Hebrew word “anaw.” Praus is a synonym of the same Greek word used concerning Christ in Matthew 11:29, where Jesus refers to Himself as “meek.”
The first use of the word praus (understanding the first use of a word gives the clearest definition of the word, as over time often the word is used differently in secular sources. This rule of in hermeneutics this refers to is “The Law of First Mention”), was in a classical Greek play about the training of a particular breed of horse. In the play, this breed of horse was known as the strongest runners, but also as the hardest to break because of their will power. It was common for the stallions to die rather than being broke. In the play, a very rich man fell in love with and purchased the strongest stallion out of a herd. No matter what the rich man’s horse trainer did, he could not break the horse. He advised the owner to destroy the horse due to its lack of utility and the danger it presented due to its uncontrollably. The master decided to personally train the horse, which was very unusual because of his high station in life. The master decided to break the horse with love and patience as opposed to attempting to use power and force, which he knew would not work.
The master took over the feeding of the stallion. He had a giant pin built outside of his own tent, where the horse could readily observe him. Every morning and evening he would feed the horse personally by stepping out of his tent with a bucket of feed and slowly and methodically approach the pen, wherein he would place the bucket on the inside of the pin, and walk backwards to his tent slowly. After quite some time the master eventually stepped inside of the pen and proceed to step one step further each day then set down the bucket and step backwards, returning to his tent.
The animal was shrewd as well as powerful; he always stood in the middle of the pin where he could watch all the fence line for possible predators. The horse maintained his vigilance in the center of the pen whenever the master would step in to feed him, never moving as day by day the master stepped closer. Then, finally after months the master was close enough to touch the animal, and did so by petting his mane. The master continued to do this for another few months, until one day he walked out into the pin without a bucket, holding a bridle as he approached the horse slowly. The master walked up and placed the bridle on the horse, then gently slid upon the horses back and nudged him to move. The horse gently walk forward, and as the master pulled on one side of the bridle the horse’s head turned in that direction and accordingly the horse turned in that same direction. Within one day, never having to use force the master had broken the spirit of the horse to obey his own will.
The horse would allow no one else to come near him, and was dominant over all the other horses. He was known far and wide as the fastest, most powerful steed in the region. He would jump any gorge or obstacle his master directed. He was courageous because of his trust (his faith which was not blind, but based upon their interaction) in his master. He was not weak, powerless, afraid, or beaten down. He was “power under control,” he was tamed by love, based upon faith; he was “meek.”
For these reasons, in today’s vernacular it seems more relevant for our usage of this Greek word to employ the English word tamed, rather than “meek” which simply means power under control. Jesus was humble in nature, attitude and behavior; yet at the same time He was powerful, and fully in control of Himself.
The Lessons to Learn
Keeping Christ as our ultimate example, the behavior of Daniel and his three friends display a pragmatic approach of conducting ourselves as believers in a unbelieving world by first displaying humility (which is the opposite of pride), which is “power under control” – “meekness.”
1) Engage in Introspection – Self-discernment
Yet, to be humble necessitates self discernment – introspection. Introspection to be able to discern when we are simply defending our own egos based upon pride, as opposed to defending the gospel in humility. And believe you me, unbelievers have the ability to know the difference. Don’t forget that the unbelievers were created in God’s Image (in the person of Adam prior to man taking on a fallen nature), just as much as a believers were, even though the fallen nature has been corrupted, much of their discernment (many things are simply to easy to recognize, rather for the Believer or non-believer), is much better than we wish to give them credit, especially in regards to pride. And do not attempt a fool yourself that because you’re a believer, and because the Holy Spirit indwells you cannot be self-deceived about your own sinfulness (remember Christ’s admonition to the apostles “be not deceived,” which would make no sense if this could not occur ~ Luke 21:8. Believers can be deceived, and the worst type of deception is self-deception), God is a gentleman and will not crush you into seeing the truth, but will use His Word and experiences in life to teach you concerning your own pride and self-deception – if you will allow this to occur. And this does not diminish the fact that unbelievers can tell the difference between an arrogant attitude, and a humble one. So self-examination is necessary in order to foster humility based upon a true examination of who we really are as sinful creatures. Paul elegantly said it best when he stated in 1 Corinthians 11:31, which states:
“For if we would judge [Greek: diakrino] ourselves, we should not be judged [Greek: krino].”
The first word for judge, diakrino, means to separate thoroughly, to withdraw from, to discriminate, or decide; depending on the grammatical breakdown. The second word for judge, krino according to its grammar means in this passage to condemn.
The literal Greek rendering is: “if we discern for ourselves, then we will not be eternally condemned.” According to the full context of the chapter which centers around the Lord’s Supper; what is implied is that if a person discerns according to the Gospel, faith unto salvation, they will not be eternally judged – the discernment here is unto life. Those in verse 29 are unbelievers, which is displayed because they could not see the value of Christ’s death, and indulged in the Lord’s Supper focusing on themselves – if they were righteous enough to partake, not on Jesus’ as the only acceptable sacrifice for their sins. In verse 32 it states literally in the Greek:
“when we perceive we are condemned as sinners, this perception by faith leads to God’s training/teaching [by and through His Word] wherein we are saved apart from the world that is condemned to pay the price for that condemnation“.
2) Develop Humility
As displayed by Christ Himself, as well as Daniel and his three friends; humility is not the same as self loathing, but is a recognition of a person’s true worth. Whereas Christ understood His Divinity, yet never needed to flaunt it. He never defended Himself or justified Himself (which is normally from a human standpoint based on insecurity, “I know this one far too well”). And concerning the self-evaluation of a believer as fallen man, self-righteousness should be the last manifestation that should be seen. We gain the proper attitude by stopping the justification for our own sinfulness. By stripping away our rationality’s of why our sin is acceptable, yet others is not. We call a spade a spade. We look into the mirror of God’s Word and come to the only conclusion possible, we’re terrible sinners deserving of hell and damnation. And the only value we have is the value that God has placed on us, never deserving; but always grateful.
If we truly look at ourselves as we are, humility is the natural fruit that is born. And it is what we see in the life of Daniel and his three friends as living as believers in an unbelieving world.
3) Fight Pride
Developing humility is not a one-time experience, it is a lifelong progression. We should always continue to do as stated above, to stay mindful of our true sinful motivations and behaviors. Yet, in fostering humility is also necessary to fight against pride. So the question becomes how to we fight against pride. What we must also understand is fighting pride is not ACTING humble – acting something is not being something. Acting is faking it, (Editorial: which is why I wonder why actors and movie stars are given so much attention concerning their views on political and controversial issues. We forget that we pay these people to lie to us. These individuals display some of the most self-centered, deceitful and emotionally disturbing behavior of those among us – why, because they live in a world of faking it, of saying and doing what profits them. Acting is a fraudulent deception wherein the actors fool their audience, even if it is by choice of the audience. It is still antithetical to that which is authentic), it cultivates deception within a person’s life. Please allow me to share a story.
Golda Meir, one of the great Israeli leaders, was seated in the Knesset next to a gentleman who was making a speech to the General assembly. As he was concluding his speech, attendees would start to clap as he was trying to seat him. He would start to sit down and then rise his hands making gestures to stop the clapping, but then he would start to raise up again and bow. After repeating this behavior five times, Golda leaned over and stated: “stop acting so humble, you’re not that great.” What an example of what so many people think humility is – faking it, acting humble as a charade, while only fostering genuine pride.
Acting and Being
This is the way a lot of individuals approach the subject of humility; it’s all simply an acting game. It’s like the motion picture executives said: “sincerity, when you learn to fake that, you’ve got it made.” This is what occurs whenever we start acting and stop being something. The difference between these two words necessitate the application of the first principle – introspection, self discernment. Many people are so used to acting they have no realistic understanding of what it is like to simply be. The activity of being, as opposed to acting, is the activity of being genuine, of being authentic. It is NOT always easy to distinguish this many times.
If I know that there are certain expectations concerning my behavior, and I behave that way in order to achieve acceptance (within dysfunctional families this becomes a survival tool, and is more easily seen in abused individuals; especially victims of incest and extreme abuse. Alcoholics and drug addicts are masters in this area either to being victims or abusers themselves. We forget that most addicts while perhaps starting their addiction for purposes of enjoyment, maintain their addiction to medicate themselves as a coping strategy to deal with internal pain), therefore, am I acting or am I being. Well, unfortunately most the time we would be acting.
However, there is a good side to this type of acting, if it done concerning acting in the positive. If you act something long enough, many times you become what you are acting. One of the positive things about human nature is that many times if we keep doing the right thing, even though we don’t want to, even though we are doing it to be accepted by others; after a while this habituation becomes natural and we stopped acting, and start becoming what we are doing. Yet, what we must always do is be honest with ourselves about our true motivations. Many state that this is the basis for socialization, that individuals perform at the level they know they are required to perform. No matter what, if this is true or not, the point is if you can do something long enough that it affects the way that you think and your attitude; and therefore it can affect the difference between being and acting, as it becomes an innate part of who we become.
Act the Way you Think, Not the Way you Feel
Many people say that the reason they don’t behave correctly is that it’s not authentic; it’s not the way they really feel. Well, were never supposed to be fully dominated by the way we feel. Some would say that this is fraudulent that you need to act the way you feel. Yet, if you notice that these individuals’ lives are full of drama, their normally self-deceived concerning their own pride and motivations, because emotion’s are so deceptive. We need to smile when you’re happy, we need to cry when you’re sad – this is not what I’m talking about. The point is if I allow my emotions to be my master then I sidestep utilizing my brain. This is why the Scripture says and Philippians 4:7-9, which states:
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
The reality of life is this – I act the way I feel, yet I feel the way I think. My point is that you must think in order to even feel. Thinking is what you utilized understand the situation that you respond by feeling. If we learn to challenge how we think about something, we learned to feel differently. If myself talk rationalizes that I can be a thief because I was brought up poor, my feelings will follow this type of logic. And my emotions will demand that the world owes me something. This will come out in my attitude. This is why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ“
It’s really not as complicated as it seems but the point is this: if you spend your time in God’s Word, thinking upon those things to be true (“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” ~ Philippians 4:8) that God has said they will affect how you process information, and therefore how you feel in response to what occurs in your life. This in turn will develop your attitude in response to those events. Act the right way – be honest about your motivations, even if your honesty is only internal – because the outcome is that you become different in a process, gaining a greater ability to become more honest with yourself the more you practice this.
This may be the reason that Jesus was so comfortable with sinners. Their sin was obvious to everyone, including themselves and could not be rationalized, so there was a sense of being authentic about who they really were, they were NOT fake. Yet the religious leaders of Jesus’ day always received His criticism, because the act did righteous, deceiving others as well as themselves and self-deception; and were therefore guilty on the inside (Matthew 23:25). Even if the best we can do at the time is to act the right way, based upon the motivations of being accepted by others as opposed to being good for the sake of being good, be honest about it – at least to yourself. Shakespeare said it best when he said: ” to thine own self, be true.”
Fighting pride is much easier than it seems as seen in Luke 9:23, which states:
“And He [Jesus] said to them all, If any man wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
Notice what it does not say, it does not say to pick up Jesus’ cross — No one could do that. It says to pick up “his,” referring to our individual cross.
What cross was Jesus speaking about? What did he mean?
A cross is an instrument of death; it is only used to kill something.
In this case it is a device to kill the flesh; it is something that we can use to put to death our self-centered, narcissistic, and self-ruling life. We are not speaking only of the kind of obvious vanity that is seen in movie stars and rock stars.
Were talking about a self-centered life which is void of submission to God. These individuals, many times display philanthropic and humanitarian characteristics; where benevolence, compassion and even deep love are seen. However, many times it is in the unseen aspects of a person’s motivations that we come to understand the sincerity of their sacrificial gestures. As a counselor the question I often ask myself prior to a session is, ” who’s needs am I meeting.” Unfortunately, many times they are simply my own, yet I must pose the question constantly in order to attempt to stay on track and stay client centered rather than allowing my own agenda to creep into the situation.
The individuals that I’m speaking about are those that may do very loving and righteous acts, yet if their motivation is to make others appreciate them or to fulfill some sense of self-worth, in reality it is still self-centered behavior. I can’t honestly say that I can come close to reckless abandon concerning self. Many times words like these harm my own soul. However, truth must be spoken, even if it harms the speaker. And the point of all this goes back to the need for introspection, and being true to ourselves concerning our true motivations concerning any and all behaviors. It is at this point that we can come to understand how diabolical the sin nature within us really is. And therefore the necessity up picking up our cross and crucify our own narcissism and self-centeredness, daily as Christ says.
In Koiné Greek, when two nouns are connected with the conjunctive, “and” (Greek: kia [G2532]), and ONLY one has the definite article, (Greek) ho [G3588]), while the other noun does not have the definite article; the two nouns are speaking about the same thing in essence, they are referring to the same person or thing; not separate entities. An example of this can be found in Luke 19:23, which states:
“…let him deny himself, and [Greek: kia] take up his [Greek: ho] cross daily…”
The definite article can normally be found in one of three different spellings in the Greek; ho, hay, to (Greek: [G3588]), though there are other definite articles which apply as well. In most cases the definite article is translated into the English: “the,” “this,” “these,” “that,” “his,” “he,” “her,” “she,” “some,” “it;” as well as other pronouns.
And IF these conditions are not met exactly, then the two nouns are NOT the same in essence, and are not synonymous, but separate (example of where the nouns are separate can be found in: Rom. 8:17, Acts 6:8).
Therefore, what this verse is saying is that denying yourself is the same as picking up your cross, the two are the same in essence. Very simply, Christ is defining how we pick up our cross, how we crucify the flesh, how we die to self; which is to done by denying ourselves.
Another very notable example of this grammatical principle (called the “Granville Sharpe Rule of Greek Grammar”), is found in Ephesian 4:11, which states: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some (Greek: ho [G3588]), pastors and (Greek: kia [G2532]) teachers.” Therefore, some pastors and teachers referred to here is speaking about the same person who is responsible for both functions, not two separate individuals – these two nouns, pastors and teachers are not two people but one person who holds two functions.
Your cross will aid in helping you “to die to self”
As we previously addressed in the essay “the leaven of the Pharisee“, the foundational sin of Lucifer was that of pride, and therefore every sin has its root in pride. As we discussed, you cannot sin without pride being the foundation that the sin was motivated by. And pride is not simply wanting to look good, it actually has to do with the focus of attention.
This explains why pride can be seen in both self grandiosity, “seeing me, how great I am,” as well as self loathing, “see me, how sick I am;” the point of both of these types of behavior is the focus of attention, which must be on self. Pride, seeking to have the attention “I feel I deserve” is the most prominent spiritual sin committed within the clergy, which again explains why Christ referred to it as the “doctrine of the Pharisee“ (Matt. 16:12). He also spoke about following their instructions when they spoke out of the Torah, yet not following their behaviors which were examples of pride, being puffed up with self, which Jesus referred to as their “doctrine.”
So if self-centeredness, which is self-obsession, is at the root of every sin, then it is pride that must be killed by “daily picking up our cross,” wherein we deny ourselves.
When it comes to fighting against self, against pride; what tools besides denying self are there – I only know of one other way to kill my pride, to pick up my cross daily and die to self – it is by FIRST exercising humility .
It has been wisely said: “pride cannot grow where humility has already been planted.”
And in case we need any reassurance about how God feels about pride, what is it that James 4:6 states:
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Christ, who is our example, as well as our Lord; did not come on a King’s steed; He came on a lonely colt, and as Matthew 20:28 states:
“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
When Jesus spoke about leadership within the church, of how His followers were to treat their followers, what did He say as recorded in Luke 22:25-27:
“And He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”
Another passage which directs where we should put our focus, as opposed to on self only; is Philippians 2:4, which states:
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
This is not stating that we are not to take care of our own interest, but that we are also to care about that which is a priority to others. It is about asking people about their lives not just talking about our own. It is about seeking to help others, not only to get them to help us. It is the working out of humility on a daily basis.
Understanding that Jesus is our only true example, as He is Divine and righteous, and our Savior, but most importantly our God; yet when I look to the examples of men in the Bible, besides that by Daniel, I always consider Paul.
Paul was a very human man, he displayed his sin, as seen openly within his many letters – he was not pretentious, he did not try to hide his humanity. He was a man that could act out in pride or arrogance, yet would admit those sins just as freely (2 Cor. 11:23; 12:11).
Humility, A Tool to Fight Pride
You see humility does not mean that a person does not have pride in their life. Humility is what they do to fight the pride in their life. It’s when pride goes unchecked, without restraint that sin runs rampant.
It is when we humble ourselves that we stand any chance of holding pride in check. It’s by taking ownership of our sins and wrongs that pride is resisted by humility. It is not falling down in pride, as much it is how many times we get up in humility (James 4:10).
And if we choose not to humble ourselves, if we are God’s child, He is then forced to humiliate us (James 4:6). And it is far easier when we humble ourselves and grow in character, then when God humiliates us in front of all, and we stumble yet one more time. However, even then if we take ownership of our sin, confessing our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).
Concerning Paul, one of his repetitive introductions and epitaphs was his reference to himself as a “bond salve” of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1;1 Corinthians 7:21; Colossians 1:10; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:7; Titus 1:1;). Unfortunately, our English translations of the Bible many times translate this term into “servant,” however; the Greek word utilized by Paul has much more meaning than our simple English term. The Greek word which is translated into the English word “servant” is: Dulos and meant “A bond salve by choice,” indebted for life to serve humbly. It is understanding the history of this word that we gain a much clearer view of the humility which Paul exhibited.
To equate what the Bible refers to as being a “bond slave,” or selling oneself into slavery; with projections concerning 18th or 19th-Century, is completely false (See Endnote #6).
In the Old Testament slavery was an option allowed for an individual that had become destitute or due to calamity lost his entire livelihood and possessions in order to save his life and or his families.
The idea was this. If a man lost everything and had no grain to feed his animals, he could sell himself to another man to become his servant, which we commonly referred to as employment, but the Bible refers as becoming a slave, some translations use the word “servant.” Many of these individuals were referred to as “field hands,” and slept in their own homes at night and worked for their master’s during the day. There were other situations where individuals would become totally destitute and have no food for their family whatsoever. In these cases they could indeed sell themselves as a slave 24/7, living with the master (a term sometimes to be equated with the current label “boss”) for a set period of time in order to feed their family, while paying off that debt that they had incurred.
Whereas without the Biblical guidelines they could be forced into a form of slavery which the nations around Israel participated which was barbaric. It was not that God was rationalizing slavery; it was that God was allowing this form of servitude so that someone was not sold into slavery such as Joseph was concerning the Egyptians. According to God’s law, a man would work 7 years to pay off his debt no matter what size the debt was. There was also a celebration called Jubilee which was held the year after the 49th year (7 times 7), and redemption was again given within Israel.
The point was, if you owed a non-Hebrew individual money and you didn’t pay they would come and take you and your family; and you would spend the rest of your life as slaves if not for the law which God had instituted inside of Israel as a protection for His people.
Under God’s law you could go to a family member, a “kinsman-redeemer,” and seek to have him pay off your debt, and you could go work as a servant for him under conditions which were much better working conditions, again somewhat synonymous with today’s type of employment. Now to the definition of a “bond slave.”
A bond slave was an individual who had worked off their debt, and had obtained their freedom. Yet, during the course of their servitude they had married another servant and had children. According to the Torah, the father could sell himself gladly back to the family to purchase and redeem his other family members. This was an honored position, and treated much differently than normal servants or salves; because it was servitude by choice – we get the concept of a trustee from this situation.
There was a ceremonial act that would take place where the husband who is purchasing his family would stand at the front door of the house, leaning his ear against the door-frame, and have his ear nailed to the door with awl, placing a part of their skin within the door frame, a symbol of the strength of the house, and of him becoming a prominent part of the house.
Then the nail would be pulled out, and he would wear an earring in the hole in his ear as a symbol that he was a bond salve, which was a sign of superiority indicating he had become a servant with the home for life others own free will, sacrificing himself for his own family. Therefore, he was admired and respected by the other slaves for having sacrificially placed his family before himself. And because this was a lifelong commitment, and was only done by individuals with integrity; bond slaves were always supervisors in the household, not doing hard labor, but taking care of and managing the master’s estate in good stead. This is what Paul meant when he meant he was a bond slave of Jesus Christ.
God use this kind of symbolism to also teach the foreshadowing of what his son would do by purchasing humanity when He was bonded to the cross with awls (nails), displaying perfect servitude to the Father and purchasing us with his blood (this is where we get the understanding of what Jesus meant in John 5:39, which states: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Everything written in God’s Word is to teach us about Christ, rather directly or indirectly, even in the object lessons such as this.).
My Un-Daniel-Like Years
During my first 20 years or so a be the Christian, I practiced apologetics (See Endnote #5); attempting to win arguments and debates concerning the gospel. And when I say arguments, I do not mean heated displays of rage, I mean it in the rhetorical sense of presenting opposing views, sometimes informal one-on-one; sometimes structured such as debates. But I am NOT speaking about trying to cram anything down someone’s throat, simply presenting an analytical and scientific presentation concerning the validity of Christianity. There are unbelievable internal evidences, as well as external evidences (See Endnote #5) to prove the validity of Christianity. However, I was not following Daniels example of humbly addressing my opponents; atheists and agnostics.
Application of the Lessons Learned
During those 20 years, when an atheists or agnostics would present something that was un-biblical, or opposed to Christianity I would debate them displaying a lack of respect, never realizing it was really my own ego that was in control (which is what I’m referring to concerning the above supposed spiritual leaders), I used a rationality for my lack of humility (which displayed a lack of power under control), that I was fighting the good fight. I came across far too emotionally (which unfortunately is far too easy as I am an emotional responder by nature), allowing my feelings to get into the battle.
However, when I started my latest career in substance-abuse counseling, where I was required to attend secular college; I was more amenable to following Daniels example. I managed better self-control than I would’ve ever thought was possible. Please do not misunderstand I do not claim to have mastered this ability, in fact I have much further to go before I should be acting as one with authority on the subject.
But one of the little secrets I learned on how to survive within a secular college was that it was not my job to correct the teacher or the curriculum. Their responsibility was to teach me information. What I needed to do was to learn the information and display that I learned it by answering the test questions appropriately, according to what they said was the correct answer. Their job (though most of them didn’t understand this) was to teach me information; that was it.
Now, during class interaction when our opinions were sought, I presented my belief system, what I felt the Word of God had to say when what they were teaching or others were stating contradicted the Bible. And I must admit there were many occasions that my feelings were hurt, and I went home feeling awful. But the point was I did much better during those years in college than I had done in the previous 20 years; as far as learning to survive as a believer in an unbelieving environment. I have an awful long way to go, and because of my own insecurities I will probably never ever get close to the level that Daniel and his three friends did.
But our Christian walk is simply that, a life of progression. And whereas I am not the example, it is when you are I follow God’s Word as our example that we get a little further down the road, and do a little better. I received honors at my college, never receiving lower than an A on all my assignments, tests, and midterms exams, and term-papers. Yet, more importantly I was a better example of a follower of Christ in an unchristian environment.
So, to conclude; to live as believers in an unbelieving world we need to:
First, judge ourselves through fervent introspection, by using critical self-discernment – SEE
Second, consciously cultivate then display humility based upon introspection – CHOOSE
Thirdly, fight pride by humbling yourself, putting others first, and taking ownership of your sin – DO
1. Psychology ~ Why has it Gained its Credibility. Have you ever asked yourself as a Christian, why does humanistic psychology have so much credibility within our culture. Agreeing first that the un-saved individuals lack an aspect of discernment which renders them spiritually blind. However, we must remember at the same time that the imageness of God, which was placed in Adam (though affected by man’s fall unto degradation); is still a part of humanity, as seen any intelligence in man, and mans abilities to yet discern his environment, and others. Man’s perception may be limited in certain areas, or at certain times; yet the unbeliever still bears a perception that God placed within man. Therefore, how do we explain the hundred years of radical acceptance of psychology by the masses, both believers and unbelievers all over the world? I believe the reason for this is that psychology as a supposed scientific pursuit has made many thoughtful observations concerning man and his behavior. And that as psychologists learn from these observations, and can therefore make predictions, they thereby gain credibility from the masses. Example: you can watch a dog for weeks, perceiving and recording its reactions to its environment; and therefore conclude a very thorough sophisticated outline concerning the dogs actions and the probability of future actions. However, this does not give you any formation concerning the true internal aspects of the dog. You cannot tell if the dog has a spiritual aspect – a soul, and if so, where it’s soul came from prior to its physical existence. And if this could be true, you could not determine if there was a master designer – a God who originally created the dog; or who that personage may be. Nor can you tell what happens after its death. And though you may be able to make certain somewhat qualified predictions concerning its behavior, you would only be guessing concerning the working of its motivation and understanding of life, both actually would be foreign to your endeavor. the best you could do is gasp based upon your insights into the thinking process of man, understanding that a dog is not the same and could not truly be compared. However, this is what psychology has done concerning humans, and concerning their observation of dogs have stated that they can make conclusion concerning dogs in reference to humans, because humans are just animals themselves and there must be some similarity. Psychologist, whether stated or not must group man within the same arena as animals, explaining how experiments can be done animals that will reflect aspects concerning humanity. It’s done concerning biology wherein lavatories are set up to test products on animals before human consumption, and psychology just takes it one step further than. Example: one of the many psychological insights that has given psychology such credibility is referred to as “Birth Order Personalities,” as originally created by Kevin Leman. This hypothesis conjectures that within an original family group, that certain personalities will develop according to which child is born in what order. The first child normally becomes the hero, the achiever; the second child normally becomes the rebel, the third child becomes the clown, and the fourth child becomes the silent child. Now this all breaks down whenever you bring in blended families where conflict between the chronology breaks down as prior established personalities conflict within the new blended family unit. Where there are now two heroes who duke it out, and so on. This is a very understandable phenomena. With the first child, the parents having no experience and treat the child as if it is gold, treating as if it would not grow up right unless they treated like the center of their world. It is common that this child is spoiled, having been doted over by parents and grandparents alike as the first introduction of children to the family. They invest more time and energy into this child, which creates a sense of empowerment and entitlement in the child which normally leads to this child being a leader, a winner, more dominant than others. The second child may attempt to usurp the first child’s station in the family, yet the parents and others have already accepted the role of the first child, so the second child would search for identity, and normally finds it as being the opposite of the first child, as the antagonist; in the form of being in the rebel, where they gain attention in this way. The third child, in searching for identity finds acceptance by being non-threatening in getting attention as the family clown, he receives attention from others by being the funniest. The fourth child, finding no ready acceptance becomes more introverted, usually astute and excels academically. The commonality that all of these children seek is in the form of seeking love, which is manifest in seeking attention. It has been wisely said that the opposite of love is not hate, but in the refusal to acknowledge the other person’s existence. If two people were in love and broke up, and the one that left still hated the one that wanted the relationship to continue, the rejected one still is involved in a relationship even though it is based upon hate – there are emotions still being churned. Yet, there is nothing worse for the rejected one than to sense that there is completely no feelings whatsoever for them; they are nonexistent in the world of the person they love. This is devastating, even worse than being hated. There is nothing worse in the world then isolation, and isolation is based upon a lack of relationship, it is based upon a lack of acceptance and acknowledgment. Therefore, as a child grows up it is primed to their feeling of love to be accepted and acknowledged as who they are. Therefore as intelligent creatures as God made us, as we grow up within our own family we seek out acceptance and acknowledgment, validity of our existence. And this is done by our behaviors, and habitual behaviors are simply manifest in what we refer to his attitudes, which are presented into the world as personalities. Therefore, this observation; if true, is not based on any great the nominal of psychology, simply an observation of reality. Before I ever heard of Kevin Leman, my grandfather spoke about the same kind of phenomena concerning humanity having never went to college a day in his life. As it goes there always breakdowns in classifying anything, and exceptions to the rule, and the same is true concerning this type about starvation; especially within a culture where divorce and remarriage is the standard rather than the exception. Also exceptions are seen in the length of time between the different births. Such as a baby that is born 5 to 10 years after the rest; which may become the golden-haired child because it’s siblings, if female will nurture it, and it becomes spoiled having many more people to render time to its parenting – it’s the “baby”. The point is, that this type of observation wherein psychology has grained such credibility is merely based upon spending time studying something. It does not validate the science as a whole concerning any conclusions or treatment that psychologist may render, hence the reason we have over 500 different types of psychological pursuits. and despite all of the clamor and rhetoric concerning psychology, these observations may or may not help in assisting individuals in the treatment of how to deal with (what psychology terms as), mood disorders, personality disorders, or physical or environmental stressors (as identified and classified in the “DMS-IV-TR”, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” utilized by the medical and psychological establishments), as well as any other psychological condition people display.
2. Psychology ~ Its History in a Nutshell. While many say that Sigmund Freud, and his apprentice Carl Jung are the fathers of European psychology, William James and Wilelm Wundt are considered by most to be the fathers of modern psychology in America. Many people think of psychology as one discipline, rather than understanding that it is more of a category with over 500 individual disciplines under it’s heading. By the late 1970s there were over 250 different psychological disciplines – forms of therapeutic approaches to the treatment of mental deficiencies or problems; with this number increasing almost 500 by the turn-of-the-century. What most people don’t understand is that each new psychological approach was created usually in deference to another approach, so within these 500 different forms of treatment while there may be an eclectic use of the same terms, or tools; most of them seem to be antithetical one to the other. The point is there is NOT a uniform consensus that can be addressed when one form is used to attack Christianity. The devil was very smart in this, rather than have one arch-enemy where a template could be devised where Christians could understand how to deal with these philosophies which are antithetical to Christianity, Satan create hundreds of different modalities, with different presuppositions. However, there are certain presuppositions which a majority of these forms of treatment hold to as foundational. There as are many types of psychology; consequently, there are many different groupings of these presuppositions. A random listing might consist of: Determinism, Experimentalism, Reductionism, Naturalism, and Relativism. Others might also add Materialism, Evolution, Empiricism, Humanism, and even Occultism. attempting to make overboard statements concerning the field of psychology becomes different whenever we approach the methodology or foundational presuppositions of these diverse therapies. Yet, many of these approaches deal with thinking processes that have been disturbed because of past experiences and or physical trauma to the muscle referred to as a brain. The mind is not a physical description, the brain is. And as many of these disciplines seek to understand those activating events which initiated trauma to the human mind, many believe that this knowledge will indicate the proper course to addressing the treatment of these traumas. In the early part of the 20th century a divergent philosophy concerning psychology, which was antithetical in many aspects emerged. This new approach rejected introspective methods or mere talk therapy and sought to restrict psychology to experimental methods which reduced problems to behaviors, behaviors which could be learned and unlearned. All of us have heard of “Pavlov’s Dog,” where Ivan Pavlov observed the connection between behavior and thought processes. It was B. F. Skinner who perfected many of the insights gained within behaviorism. And while an avowed atheist and humanist, Skinner dealt with behaviors and conditioning as opposed to delving into the psyche of the subject. Skinner’s modality, termed “Radical behaviorism is the philosophy of the science of behavior. It seeks to understand behavior as a function of environmental histories of reinforcing consequences. Such a functional analysis makes it capable of producing technologies of behavior. Unlike less austere behaviorisms, it does not accept private events such as thinking, perceptions, and unobservable emotions in a causal account of an organism’s behavior” (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.F._Skinner). Of all the forms of psychology, over 500; this approach to the human condition is much more conducive to dealing with training or retraining human behaviors. Yet, this as all psychological approaches must be understood to be humanistic and man oriented as opposed to Christian and God oriented.
3. Psychology ~ When Mixed with Christianity. Today there are many in the church who practice what they refer to as “Christian Psychology.” These individuals are normally well-meaning believers that have great empathy (to experience compassion for someone who is going through something that YOU HAVE went through yourself) or sympathy (to experience compassion for someone who is going through something that YOU HAVE NOT went through yourself) for others; however, it is their training in psychology that we should question, not their motives. Yet, if you take the time to thoroughly examine this practice, you will find that it is a psychologist or therapist that uses biblical citations, merely as props, yet does not fully follow biblical doctrine. Even those that use a lot of Scripture, MAINLY do so loosely and merely to make their own presuppositions (I am not ONLY referring to psychological premises, but also to the positive side of the human conscience. Many of the teachings found in God’s Word are just good common sense. This is because we are made in the imageness of God Himself, through Adam. Therefore, these presuppositions may line up with the Bible, but the question becomes what came first the presupposition or the Bible that they use to find Scriptures that validate their beliefs), while practicing a psychological framework which is their ultimate guide; rather it is antithetical to the Bible or not. Many times what they state is simply common sense, and may even be neutral. But it is when they present psychological presuppositions concerning discretion that you must be alarmed. Remember the old adage, simply because the poison is only a drop within a large glass, does not nullify the death that follows. There over 500 different types of psychological pursuits, and it is impossible to address them all, yet if you take them one by one you will find that their practitioners are psychologist first and foremost, and that the use of Scriptures as props does not validate their forms of therapy, even if they call it Christian psychology. Psychology, according to the popular Rogerian (Carl Rogers) example, is “client centered,” which is anathema to the book of principles wherein the Bible is God centered. Foundational to any therapeutic pursuit is a relationship between counselor and counselee; wherein the counselor is always on the side of the counselee, taking what they say at face value, rather than the pursuit of truth. Often I have heard supposedly Christian counselors advise Christian women to divorce a man who the woman states is verbally or emotionally abusive, which is not validated in the Bible; nor do they even attempt to use Scripture concerning these types of cases. And worse yet, they never attempt to validate the merit of what the counselee says by meeting with the husband. Pastorally speaking, having run into this type of situation the first saying is to bring the couple together and utilize God’s Word to work out the problems of their relationship. What I mean by the premises or presumptions of psychology is such belief that verbal abuse is the same as physical abuse. Or they haphazardly throw out the term emotional abuse. Yet they are never there to witness these declarations that they assist occur based upon one person’s perspective. As that counselor, how arrogant is it to believe that you can discern the reality by only hearing one side of the issue. The arrogance and pride that is submitted by a counselor who thinks that they can judge a situation by hearing the counselee only displays a lack of humility, as well as a lack of faith in God that trusting in Him will result in a righteous conclusion. Personally, within pastoral counseling I have repeatedly found how Christians that are uncomfortable in a situation; wishing for an excuse to leave, rather voluntarily or not distort the situation. A good counselor looks for the truth, not for simply building a good relationship with the counselee, believing that they can interpret a situation from such a limited perspective. Biblically speaking, the way to deal with an abusive husband is lined up in God’s word which I’ve never seen a Christian psychologist ever use. The scriptural basis is very simple and found in Matthew 18:15-18. This has to do with when Christians violate other Christians. Yet the one thing I have never seen happen with a Christian psychologist is to state that marriage is to be honored even if it’s participants do not do so. That divorce is not recognized except in the case of adultery as per Jesus very own words. I have seen situations where women have been physically abused, and for their own physical safety as well as the safety of their children have left the husband, yet without divorcing them. I have also seen God bring these families together by using the separation of losses a family to motivate the man to again seek God and correct his behaviors. However, the Christian psychologist who set their priority as their discernment of the happiness of their client never speak of leaving the abuser without divorce. Because why should the woman be tied to an abusive man and be unhappy. This is their kind of thinking it has to do with a false belief that believers were created to be happy, as opposed to the Bible which states that believers were created to glorify their God. This is why I say that Christian psychologist build their practice upon psychology first and foremost; because they do not have the courage to totally reiterate what God’s Word has to say within these kind of devastating situations. Therefore, the psychologist is not allowing God to work in the situation, but they must manipulate based solely upon man’s ability, as opposed to God’s superiority. Within the biblical framework for pastoral counseling, a pastor already has built credibility in a relationship with the individuals prior to those situations that biblical counseling is needed. Also, those that refer to themselves as Christian Counselors (those trained in psychology that utilize psychological theories and tools; rather they call themselves “Christian Psychologist,” or “Christian Counselor;” it is simply semantics, it is their premise and tools that define their behavior that counts), and charge money (even if they have to pay for higher education, this does not mandate that they make money from pastoral counseling to do so – it’s not about making money online it’s about serving God. If He owns everything in my life, then why do I need to use Him to make money to pay for those tools that have equip me to better serve Him) for that which they have freely received of God, according to and through God’s Word (if they truly do use God’s Word as a foundation for their work), do so in violation of God’s Word (Matthew 10:5-8, as an example to us now). There are no biblical allowances for an outside paid occupation of being a Christian psychologist. The presuppositions that are necessary to practice psychology are antithetical to God and His Word; it is like mixing oil and water. Either you serve one, or you serve the other, period (Matthew 6:24). They do not mix, at all. I spent years as a proponent of Christian counseling, always fighting my internal biblical reasoning, until finally I had to stop following the vanity of my own mind in order to legitimize my wholesale commitment of time and energy that I had made to psychology. Many Christians are won over to Christian psychology because it legitimizes their behaviors, and many times appears to free them from challenging, if not dangerous situations. However, it is God and His Word that is to be supreme in our life, not humanistic philosophies which can APPEAR so helpful, or even logical. remember Colossians 2:8-10, which states:
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
4. The Difference Between Attributes and Essence – How Christ was all God and yet all Man.
A common problem that I see in the church today is confusing attributes and essence. The essence of something is what it is in its makeup, internally, whereas the attributes are behaviors (which can be seen and therefore identified, which is not true of essence, which is the inner part of a person), which are simply displays that radiate from, and are distinct from the essence that created them. It is very common for people to mistake attributes for essence, and falling short in their understanding many times they misinterpret the essence of something because the attributes or behaviors may vary in diverse situations.
This may seem like a rationality for hypocrisy, however different situations mandate different responses, this is more readily seen because different roles maintain different responsibilities and therefore mandate different responses. An example of this can be seen in human relationships. A man may be the King of his castle at home, yet a servant while at work. He may be a father to his son and therefore hold that prominent place of respect, yet when he is in the presence of his own father, he is to be the one displaying respect. He is the same person, yet functions differently in different roles. He may be a kind and loving father to his daughter, yet a stringent judge in the courtroom. He may be the loving husband to his wife, yet the aggressive defender in his home taking the life of an intruder. The person is the same, the essence of him has not changed, yet his roles and responsibilities are diverse in different situations, and therefore he displays different attributes.
Distinction between Attributes and Roles
In examining anyone we must always be aware of the role that the individual is playing at the time in order to evaluate the correctness of those attributes. It is in examining those attributes, or behaviors that discretion must be seen according to the mandates of the situation. It is rightly said that we should not judge one another as referred to in Matthew 7:1 (for the sake of this argument let us temporarily set aside the different Greek words for “judgment,” which can vary from unrighteous condemnation to righteous condemnation to evaluation for edification sake. Whereas certain judgment is demanded in certain situations, such as: I Corinthians 5:12, 13; 6:2-5; 11:31;14:29; I Thessalonians 5:21 as compared to that which is condemned in other situations, such as: Matthew 7:1; Colossians 2:16; James 2:4;4:11,12), yet only of few verses later, Christ commanded that we judge concerning false prophets in Matthew 7:15-20. What is the main difference in these two situations, it is the role of the one being evaluated, because they are a leader and therefore affect people in a different way than normal members of a group. Wherein a false student may lead one or two astray, a good teacher will ferret them out; however, a false prophet (remember that the word “Prophet” means “one who speaks for another”, and may not have anything to do with telling the future, such as the case of John the Baptist) , especially in the role as a teacher, can do an immense amount of damage to many individuals; therefore because of their roles, and the responsibility that it entails, we are to evaluate or judge teachers because of this. The role makes the difference, and as such, there should be different attributes that also follow. Roles many times define attributes, or behaviors.
The Roles of God
The reason this discussion is necessary is to distinguish those attributes that God displays during certain roles He performs at certain times in history, as compared to other roles at diverse times. This is why individuals have made the mistake of stating that the God of the Old Testament is a warring God that kills and judges; and the God of the New Testament is a loving and forgiving God, as seen in Jesus. God the Father is the same, and so is Jesus in both Testaments, yet it is in the roles that they play at certain times wherein the confusion lies. It is when men do not take the whole counsel of God1 into consideration; by using the justification of the local context only, isolating it from the rest of Scripture in an attempt to make their own point. Scriptural context is more than its local application; it is in its application to the Bible as a whole that it must be utilized.
When God the Father instructed the Israelites to kill every man, woman, and child of certain tribes and nations in the promised land, He did so as a father that is protecting His own child from those that would later seek out to destroy that child by either destruction or genetic contamination. God the Father’s role was that of a protecting father. Yet, how could one question the love of God the Father in that He would nail His own Son to the cross for His enemies, which He would then adopt.
It is in misunderstanding the roles of Jesus Christ that many liberals rationalize pacifism. They concentrate on Jesus in His First Coming and interpret Jesus’ essence according to those attributes of that particular role that He displays on this occasion. This is why it is so helpful to understand that the four Gospels display four views of Jesus in His First Coming: that of the Matthew as the Messiah, the lion of the tribe of Judah; that of Mark as the suffering servant; that of Luke as the perfect man; and that of John as the son of God.
Without the benefit of this perspective many concentrate only on Jesus as the suffering servant, and therefore only see him as demanding that everyone always turn the cheek. While Jesus instructed the 70 disciples not take a sword with them on their first Ministry training outreach, they forget that Jesus latter speaking concerning His upcoming departure instructed them to carry a sword. When they speak about His kindness, they do so by isolating Him from the contempt He showed to the Pharisees, or the intolerance he displayed to the opportunist when He turned over their money tables in the Temple courtyard.
And most importantly they separate Him from the role He will play at His Second Coming, that of a warring conqueror claiming His prize. They allegorize fire coming from His mouth, and the fact that He will kill millions of people. His role at this time is defending Israel, and vanquishing the earth dwellers.
They also seem to have a hard time with the Christophanies of the Old Testament, the fact that Joshua was confronted by Him at night wearing a soldier’s uniform, a sword drawn in his hand, and announcing that he is the captain of the Lord’s Host, meaning that he is the very highest ranking warrior leader of God’s armies.
The world either wants to keep Jesus as a baby at Christmas who has no power; or as a pacifist unwilling to display power; either way, they can avoid his sovereignty to their own demise.
Understanding that God displays different attributes according to the role He is fulfilling at that time, we must still understand the deficiency in defining God according to those, or any attributes; because attributes are not a definition of essence. And whenever we attempt to define God according to His attributes we in essence attempt to minimize and compartmentalized Him. We attempt to bring Him down to our capacity to understand. How can the finite define the infinite? It can’t, and any attempt to do so is condescending.
Yet at the same time, we are intellectual creatures, created with logic and rationality’s, and have a need to understand anything and everything. And by necessity, we must attempt to understand or define God, while at the same time; regarding the task with great reverence. We can never rap our arms or minds around God, and to think we can to any large extent is blasphemous. Yet, how do we know which God is really God. God is a title and not a personal name or descriptor. So which deity is truly deity? This can only be accomplished by the mere act of attempting to understand, and therefore define that deity, but to do so in reverence and awe.
Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology says, concerning the attributes of God:
God is an invisible, personal, and living Spirit, distinguished from all other spirits by several kinds of attributes: metaphysically God is self-existent, eternal, and unchanging; intellectually God is omniscient, faithful, and wise; ethically God is just, merciful, and loving; emotionally God detests evil, is long-suffering, and is compassionate; existentially God is free, authentic, and omnipotent; relationally God is transcendent in being immanent universally in providential activity, and immanent with his people in redemptive activity.2
Answer to the Question
Of those attributes which are observable concerning God, if I had to name one that was most appealing to me, it would be that attribute for which my whole existence hinges that of God’s mercy. We know that mercy is not receiving that negative reward we deserve, and that grace is receiving that benefit we do not deserve. Therefore, it is difficult at best to separate grace from mercy.
What is most amazing is that God in His infinite wisdom could display both attributes of justice as well as mercy, because they are mutually exclusive. To display mercy mandates the restraint of justice; to display justice mandates lacking the ability to display mercy. Yet God, as only God could; devised a means to maintain both of these attributes; while also maintaining an attribute just as necessary, that of integrity.
In comparison, how unfortunate for those deceived by the false religion of Islam. The non-existent god of Islam, lacks mercy as well as integrity. This imaginary god is as inconsistent, as he is cruel.
By contrast, we as Christians have a heavenly Father, who in His role as Father, is invincible; we have a Savior, who in His role as Savior is the perfect perpetuation for sin. Their mercy and grace unwavering, and their integrity unceasing.
Footnote to this Endnote
1. Acts 20:27 – “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”
2. ELWELL’S EVANGELICAL DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, Walter A. Elwell, Baker
Book House Company, Grand Rapids, MI 49546, USA, 1984, electronic media.
5. Apologetics ~ A Rudimentary Example of External Biblical Evidence.
According to secular history we know that the man Jesus existed in the place and time which the Bible records. Even false religions (the Koran) record these facts as well as His crucifixion as a criminal. The question then becomes from a secular point of view, in order to explain His death, He either was a liar, a lunatic, or who He said He was, the Lord; the Son of God (and for those individuals that say that Jesus never made this claim to be God, they have never really read the Gospels ~ Matt. 5:18, Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44-47, John 1:1, John 1:14, John 1:29, John 1:45, John 5:39, John 8:13-58; John 12:16, John 13:13,14; John 14:6, John 14:9; John 15:25, John 17:6-7, for starters). We see no evidence whatsoever to indicate He was a lunatic, and if He was we are at a total absence to explain how over 500 individuals thought contrary to this. Therefore, the pivotal question becomes either Christ was a liar, or He was who He said He was, Lord of all (which is why the Pharisees kept trying to stone Him for claiming to be God, which is what the Torah demands as punishment). If He was a liar, and during the post-resurrection He was seen by over 500 individuals who were living when the Gospels penned (meaning as the letters were being circulated, there would people who could give creditability or dispute those claims), how did He fake His resurrection. The hypothesis referred to as “Swooning,” where Jesus was not actually killed, but due to the temperature of the cave and other conditions He later revived. This displays a lack of insight concerning Roman crucifixion, wherein death was from suffocation and the inability to hold oneself up by their legs, which is why when the soldiers would get tired of waiting for a prisoner to die, they would break their legs (and if a prisoner got away, the soldier would take his place – do you think that a Roman would take any chances – there is never a record of this occur, no man crucified ever lived). Yet, Jesus only lasted six hours, and to verify His death, a soldier plunged a spear into His side up into His heart cavity, wherein both water and blood flowed. There has never been recorded case of a prisoner of crucifixion surviving the practice. Therefore, if Christ was a liar, and somehow 500 individuals attest that He was resurrected, Christ must have had other accomplices in His conspiracy to fake everyone one out, but who; it could only be the apostles. What is amazing about the 12 apostles, is that the prophesied one Judas, who took his own life, John lived to a ripe old age which appears to be somehow related to Christ’s words? (John 21:22), the remaining 10, according to secular history died as martyrs for the faith, claiming that the resurrection was true. Now presuppose that you lived during this time in history when there was no common communications as we know it today. And if you were a liar, 1000 miles from all your friends and were told you would be killed unless you were canted the Gospel story, why not recant. I mean you could meet up with others later and claim that you did not recant, but were miraculously saved, who would know. Yet, there has never been a story found in all of secular history of this occurring. What secular history has recorded is that the 10 apostles of Jesus Christ were all tortured and murdered for claiming that Jesus Christ was the divine Son of God, that was resurrected three days after his death. Peradventure, that a virtuous man would give his life for his brother; could we imagine that a liar would ever give his life for a lie, that he knew was a lie, when it wasn’t necessary to do so in order to maintain his integrity with his co-conspirators.
6. It is ironic when Black Liberation Theology proponents, and those that refer to themselves as Christian liberals desecrate the Bible based upon what they suggest is God’s sanction of slavery, as if the Bible was suggesting the type of slavery that they referred to as the brutalization that occurred on Southern plantations up until a century ago, was the same. They gloss over the history that the original slave traders were Black African chieftains who captured to make money on the slave trade, never allowing the white-man beyond their coastline, or that many slaves were treated very well. However, this does not take from the fact that slavery is perhaps the worst injustice perpetrated in American history. So that individuals do not misunderstand what I am saying, there is no rationality for slavery as it is practice outside of God’s Word; which is not a rationality, but instructions so individuals will not become abused. I am not supporting slavery in any way, shape, or form. Man was created to be free, and the first and most important right due to humanity is this freedom. Without freedom we have no choice to respond to God’s love, and choose to have faith in Him or to reject Him. You asked me why God does not destroy evil as it exists today, it is because of the love He has for us; and that to destroy all evil, He would have to destroy all humanity. And for the love that God had for man, He has allowed evil to exist – yet this is due because of the complete necessity of freedom. And it is God, our Creator who tolerates sin, as opposed to destroying the sinner. Of all the inhumanity of man, outside of mass genocide and murder; next in line is that of slavery. The slavery that was practiced in United States displays perhaps the greatest wickedness of mankind, with the mass-murder of American Indians and enslaving them, as well as the wholesale destruction of their way of life and great nation (there are so many examples of the atrocities that we have done, neglecting any at this time is only because of a lack of space, we do not have time to address such examples as the interment of American Japanese during World War II, and many other atrocities that even now occur on a daily basis). Fallen man, throughout history has done diabolical and evil things to each other, yet to equate God’s directions concerning servitude with the slavery of the United States is completely without merit. It only takes a simple reading of the basic doctrine of Black Liberation Theology to understand that these are Christian cults, which have nothing to do with the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Denigrating the atonement of Jesus Christ concerning salvation by faith in Christ alone into a corporate salvation, where social justice and the social gospel are foundational. They openly teach that Christianity has been shanghaied and polluted by white Caucasians who have attempted to use the Bible in an effort to conquer the known world under the guise of capitalism.