Exploring Christ's Spiritual Laws

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Heb 12:3-4 . . For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners
against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have
not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin

I'm pretty sure the "sin' spoken of in that passage encompasses a whole lot
more than merely something of your own; it's the entire sphere of evil in
this world.

The Jews to whom the author wrote must have had it pretty good because it
was only a matter of time before Christians were targets for arrows, swords,
lances, pyres, and the teeth of beasts in the coliseum at Rome. Even today,
it is very dangerous to be a Christian in Muslim countries.

Saturday, August 03, 2009, a frenzied mob of 3,000 Muslims stormed the
tiny Pakistani Christian village of Gojra. Enflamed by (unconfirmed) charges
that a Christian had incinerated pages of the Koran, the mob burned down
fifty homes, cremated eight Christians alive, and wounded twenty others.
Thousands of Christians fled the area.
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Heb 12:5-6 . . My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do
not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he
loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.

Christians have to expect that God is going to find fault with their lives from
time to time, and take appropriate steps to correct it. So be very hesitant
about cursing your luck because it just might be the hand of God at work
rather than one of the Fates.
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Heb 12:7-11 . . If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons;
for what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are
without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are
illegitimate and not sons.

. . . Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we
paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the
Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as
seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His
holiness.

. . . Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful;
nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to
those who have been trained by it.

Child training is quite a bit different than child abuse; training builds
character, while abuse breaks the spirit.

NOTE: Seeing as how most of us lack a red phone line to Heaven's front
desk; there's really no way to know for sure when God is chastening us or if
life in general is just being its usual unpleasant self. That being the case I
suggest we reckon all unpleasantness to be providential in one way or
another; and follow job's example.

"In all this Job did not sin, nor charge God with wrong." (Job 1:22)
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Heb 12:12-13 . .Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak, and the
knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the
limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

That almost sounds like physical therapy; which of course it is. When I had
one of my knees replaced, the therapist had to teach me how to walk all
over again-- how to walk properly because with the bad knee, I couldn't;
and that had gone on for more than a decade. And not only that, but the leg
with the bad knee had become feeble because I favored it and wasn't using
it properly. So a large percentage of my therapy involved getting that game
leg strong again by means of an exercise regimen.

The Greek word for "straight" is orthos (or-thos') which doesn't necessarily
define the shortest distance between two points. It can also mean smooth
and level; in other words: free of tripping hazards; which someone
undergoing treatment for a joint problem (e.g. hips, knees, and ankles) has
to really watch out for. In other words: an orthos path is a therapeutic
path-- in this case in respect of one's spiritual conditioning rather than their
physical conditioning.

Compare Heb 5:14 where it says: "Solid food is for the mature, who because
of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."
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Heb 12:14a . . Pursue peace with all men,

The word for "peace" is eirene (i-ray'-nay) and means not only a lack of
strife, but also the presence of prosperity; which implies always seeking the
good of others rather than only your own.

People of peace are in an advantageous category.

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
(Matt 5:9)
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Heb 12:14b . . Pursue holiness, without which no one will see The Lord.

The Greek word translated "holiness" actually means purity; which can be
defined as free from immorality, especially of a sexual nature; and can also
be defined as free from contamination.

There's a day coming when everybody associated with Christ will be pure.

"Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and
cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to
himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but
that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph 5:25-27)

So, which might the focus be here: the pursuit of holiness or the possession
of holiness? Well; I'd have to say that pursuit is the focus because I can't
imagine anyone ever achieving flawless purity in speech, thought, and
conduct in the brief amount of time we're allowed on earth no matter how
how hard they try nor how they go about it.

The word "see" is somewhat ambiguous. It can relate to physical eyesight
and it can also relate to mental perception. I'm inclined to believe it's related
to mental perception in this case.

As an allegory: at one time I had cataracts in both eyes. As a result, my
vision was really blurry because the cataracts scattered light, thus
preventing the natural lenses in my eyes from bringing things into sharp
focus. After surgery to replace the natural lenses with artificial lenses, I can
now see sharply; i.e. my vision's clarity was greatly improved and I'm able
to notice details that were virtually invisible before.

In other words; people with no interest in pursuing holiness lack clarity; i.e.
their perception of The Lord is fuzzy at best because there are details in view
that they are unable to make out due to their mind's mental cataracts, so to
speak.
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Heb 12:15a . . See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God

Grace comes out pretty early in the Bible.

"Noah found grace in the eyes of The Lord." (Gen 6:8)

Noah found that grace because he was righteous.

"The Lord said to Noah: Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you
alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time." (Gen 7:1)

Some Christians are so obsessed with the imputed righteousness that God
grants via faith as per Rom 3:20-26 that they neglect to cultivate any of
their own. Well; maybe they have no interest in their own personal
righteousness; but God is plenty interested. He wants to see it; in point of
fact: Christians lacking personal righteousness are missing out on the
sunshine of a father's love.

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and
we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)

NOTE: Mother Teresa complained in private letters to spiritual counselors
that the place for God in her soul was blank, He was not there; there was no
God in her.

Teresa felt not the slightest glimmer of the Lord's presence during virtually
the entire five decades she was in India; and referred to Jesus as "the
absent one". Her prayers were pings; and God's silence was so extensive
that she actually came to doubting that a God even exists; and if one did
exist, it didn't want her.

In the final weeks of her life, Teresa was greatly disturbed. At the urging of
Henry D'Souza, the Archbishop of Calcutta (a.k.a. Kolkata), the poor woman
finally agreed to an exorcism-- performed by Father Rosario Stroscio --if
perchance demons were clouding her mind.

All in all, Teresa's spiritual condition was incredibly substandard considering
her ranking as one of the most pious nuns the 20th century ever produced.
What went wrong? How did her Christian experience fall into such a state of
malfunction? Well; the answer to that question can be easily deduced from
portions of this post so I need not say more.
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Heb 12:15b . . that no root of a bitter plant, sprouting up, causes trouble,
and by it many be defiled;

The Greek word for "defiled" means to taint, sully, and/or contaminate.

Seeing as how this epistle is addressed to Hebrews, then I think we're pretty
safe to assume that the "root of a bitter plant" likely refers to Deut 29:18-19
which reads thus:

"Make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on
himself and therefore thinks: I will be safe, even though I persist in going
my own way."

Why those kinds of people even bother coming to church is a bit of a
mystery seeing as how they have no intention whatsoever to either
exemplify and/or implement Christian teachings. As far as they're
concerned, Jesus should mind his own business and stop trying to meddle in
their affairs. These folk aren't harmless, no, they are quite pernicious.

Moses warned in the 29th chapter that toxic people can lead a country to
ruin. Well, the lesson here is obvious: bitter plants can lead a church to ruin;
and if allowed to become pervasive, will be difficult to eradicate.
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Heb 12:16-17 . . that there be no immoral or secular person like Esau, who
sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards,
when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no
place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

Webster's defines "secular" as not overtly or specifically religious, viz:
irreverent, which can be roughly defined as having little or no respect for
sacred things.

Esau is a good example of the limits of God's patience. Another example is
located at 1Cor 11:27-30

I think it's nigh unto impossible to fix all the secular people attending
churches, but at least they can be warned of the consequences so they don't
go around with the false assumption that God is flexible with their behavior.
Same goes for the immoral people.

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong;
Gives it a superficial appearance of being right.

(Thomas Paine)
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Heb 12:25-29 . . See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they
did not escape who refused Him who spoke on Mt. Sinai, much more shall
we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose
voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying: Yet once
more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.

Jehovah is sometimes called the god of the second chance. Well; this epistle
is basically an open letter to the Jews so it's appropriate to remind them that
their ancestors, as a corporate body, failed to take advantage of their
advantages and ended staring down the wrong end of a rifle barrel, so to
speak. The Jews of today are in the very same danger.

"Yet once more" indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken,
as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may
remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be
shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with
reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:27-29)
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Heb 13:1 . . Let brotherly love continue.

Brotherly love is way different than neighborly love. Brothers are kin, while
neighbors are outsiders; ergo: one's kin in Christ should always have the
priority when forced to make a choice between a brother and a neighbor.
The directives are different too. Christians love their neighbors as they love
themselves (Matt 19:19) while loving their brothers as Christ loves them
(John 13:34).
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Heb 13:2 . . Do not neglect to be hospitable with strangers; for by this
some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Webster's defines "hospitable" as: given to generous and cordial reception of
guests, promising or suggesting generous and friendly welcome, offering a
pleasant or sustaining environment.

Inviting strangers into one's own home could easily result in the murder of
your entire family, along with the theft of your belongings. So, I'm thinking
Heb 13:2 is not saying that; rather, it's talking about congregational homes;
viz: churches.

I think it's very important to make non members-- visitors --feel at home in
church: make them feel welcome to return. Not only is that the neighborly
thing to do, but you just never know if that next stranger through the door
was guided there by providence and has the potential to increase your
church's spiritual value to God.

Artists generally depict angels as heavenly creatures with wings and/or
aglow with some sort of ethereal light. But the Greek word doesn't always
indicate celestial beings, rather, it refers to all manner of messengers, e.g.
prophets (Matt 11:10), delegates (Luke 7:24), fire (Heb 1:7), ecclesiastic
authorities (Rev 1:20-3:14), visions (Rev 22:16), and even things like fire,
wind, smoke, voices, and earthquakes. (Acts 7:53)
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Heb 13:3 . . Remember prisoners, as though in prison with them; and those
who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

"the body" isn't referring to the overall, worldwide Christian fraternity. No,
it's a specific human body: the one in which Christ was crucified.

"We are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father
and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
This is a profound mystery-- but I am talking about Christ and the church."
(Eph 5:30-32)

The prisoners mentioned are not just any jailbird in lock-up; but rather, it's
limited to those who are "in the body" viz: in Christ.

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of
that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit
are we all baptized into one body" (1Cor 12:12-13)

The tenor of the command is, I think, restricted to Christians mistreated
and/or confined for their religious beliefs and practices rather than actual
crimes. There's a lot of that sort of thing going on today in Muslim countries.
America is well-known for its religious tolerance; other countries, not so
much.
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Heb 13:4 . . Let marriages be respected: and the bed kept unsoiled; for
God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

A number of despicable behaviors are listed in the 18th chapter of Leviticus;
and one of them-- listed right along with incest and LGBT --is adultery.

Rom 1:18 says that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all
ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and goes on to list not only LGBT
as one of those ungodly, unrighteous behaviors worthy of the wrath of God,
but also sexual impurity and the degrading of people's bodies with one
another. Sexual impurity and degradation includes not only sleeping around
and/or cohabitating, but also adultery.

Some Christians don't know the meaning of "respect" when it comes to
marriage. It means to treat someone else's spouse as a sacred object. I've
seen for myself how some Christians think it's terrible to trespass on private
property and/or steal the silverware when they're invited over for dinner;
but at the same time get just a bit too chummy with their host's spouse.

There's a popular song going around with these words:

You don't own me,
I'm not just one of your many toys.
You don't own me,
Don't say I can't go with other boys.

The lyrics of that song-- originally recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963 --depict
a defiant girl standing up to a possessive boyfriend. Well; those lyrics may
be true for temporary lovers; but are very contrary to God's thinking when it
comes to marriage.

There is no Hebrew word for either husband or wife in the Old Testament.
No, the English words for husband and wife are derived from the presence of
gender-sensitive possessive pronouns; viz: her and his.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
and they shall become one flesh." (Gen 2:24)

The Hebrew word for "wife" in that passage is 'ishshah (ish-shaw') which just
simply indicates a female; regardless of age. The possessive pronoun "his"
makes the 'ishshah somebody's wife. i.e. his woman.

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was
pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of
the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and
he did eat." (Gen 3:6)

The Hebrew word for "husband" in that verse is 'enowsh (en-oshe') which
just simply indicates a mortal; viz: a guy, a male; regardless of age. The
possessive pronoun "her" makes the 'enowsh somebody's husband, i.e. her
man.

So the principle of possession is a key element in marriage; and adulterers
are nothing in the world but thieves. In point of fact, in 2007, when a
suburban Chicago man, Arthur Friedman, found out his wife was cheating on
him with another man named German Blinov, he was heartbroken. But
unlike many other people, Friedman didn't "get over" it. Instead, he filed a
lawsuit against Mr. Blinov for stealing the love and affections of his wife. A
Cook County jury ordered Blinov to pay a total $4,802 to Mr. Friedman for
stealing his wife.

While the idea of suing your wife's or husband's lover for stealing their
affections might sound ridiculous, it is indeed quite legal to do so. Mr.
Friedman used a lesser-known state law to attack and sue his wife's lover.
The law is called the "alienation of affection" law. In fact, there are eight of
these types of laws across the United States. It allows violated spouses to
seek damages for the loss of love to a wife or husband's lover.

"The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does;
and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body,
but the wife." (1Cor 7:4)

A wedding vow then, could be said to be a transfer of ownership just like
signing over the pink slip to a car or the deed to real estate. So then, always
keep those possessive pronouns in mind when associating with somebody
else's spouse; and keep your pea-pickin' paws off the merchandise!
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Heb 13:5a . . Let your conduct be without covetousness;

Not all covetousness is prohibited; for example 1Cor 12:31 where Christians
are exhorted to eagerly desire certain spiritual gifts.

The Greek word in this instance refers to avarice; defined by Webster's as
excessive, or insatiable, desire for wealth or gain; viz: greediness and
cupidity.

Were an avaricious person asked how much and/or how many it would take
to satisfy them; their answer would no doubt be "more" because it's in their
nature to grasp.
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Heb 13:5b . . Be content with such things as ye have.

Since the writer connected this directive with avarice, I would have to say
his focus in this verse is on moderation; defined by Webster's as reasonable
limits and/or average; viz: avoiding extremes.

"He himself has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may
boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can Man do to me?"
(Heb 13:5-6)

Well, I think the mortgage crisis in 2008, the stock market crash, the 401K
meltdowns, the ENRON collapse, the decline in oil production, the GM
financial mess, the national debt, massive nationwide lay-offs, the
proliferation of Islamic terrorism, and Mr. Bernard Lawrence Madoff easily
demonstrate that Man can hurt me quite a bit.

I lost an appreciable amount from my retirement account when the housing
bubble burst, and the market crashed due to the bankruptcy of Bear Sterns,
Lehman Brothers, and AIG; thus proving The Lord's words that thieves break
in and steal (Matt 6:49-21) and some of those thieves are managing banks
and innocent people's investments!

However, in spite of all those threats to my peace of mind, I still believe in
providence; i.e. The Lord will get me through it all somehow. Well; so far so
good.
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Heb 13:7 . . Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

The "leaders" of that particular verse refer to the ones who captained Moses'
people over the centuries; e.g. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David.
Elijah, Ezra, and Nehemiah; and the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
Micah; et al. about whom the Bible says:

"Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained
what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the
flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to
strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies."
(Heb 11:33-34)

"Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured
and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.
Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in
prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death
by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute,
persecuted and mistreated-- the world was not worthy of them." (Heb
11:35-38)

"They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the
ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received
what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that
only together with us would they be made perfect." (Heb 11:39-40)

There was once an advertisement for a beer on television that said, in so
many words: "You only go around once in life. So grab all the gusto you can
get." Well; Christ's believing followers should not be thinking like that. They
don't go around once; the real gusto is yet to come.
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Heb 13:9 . . Do not be carried away by strange and varied teachings; for it
is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace rather than foods, through
which those who were thus occupied were not benefited.

The words "carried away" weren't translated from Greek words. They're
arbitrary insertions; viz: they're words that a translating committee penciled
into the English text so as to make the passage say what they guessed it's
supposed to be saying. Arbitrary insertions are pretty common and nobody
seems to fear they might be adulterating the Bible.

The word "strange" is translated from the Greek word xenos (xen'-os) which
essentially refers to someone or something with which Christians are
unfamiliar. For example; though most Christians are familiar with the dietary
laws contained in the covenant that Moses' people agreed upon with God,
Christ's followers are under no obligation to comply with them for the simple
reason that those laws are contractual. Well; Christians per se, are not
contracted with God to comply with those laws. Hence those dietary laws
amount to "strange" teachings; viz: they're unchristian.

Now, what I find curious about Heb 13:9 is the fact that the anointing
spoken of in 1John 2:26-27 is supposed to steer those who have it away
from deception while at the same time aligning them with the truth. So then,
that being the case, then it's clearly possible for those with the anointing to
ignore its guidance and buy into strange and varied teachings.

Another thing I should point out is that according to 1Thess 5:19, it's
possible to quench the anointing's guidance; viz: snuff it out like one would
snuff a candle so that it no longer produces light to illuminate one's path:
and that's not a good thing.

"This is the message we have heard from him and announce to you, that
God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have
fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice
the truth." (1John 1:5-6)
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Heb 13:16 . . And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such
sacrifices God is pleased.

Doing good and sharing are bloodless sacrifices; and in point of fact are far
more likely to be accepted by God than the death of birds and beasts.

In the first chapter of the book of Isaiah, God lambasted Moses' people for
bringing all the correct, God-mandated sacrifices to the Temple. Why?
Because those sacrifices were insulting while His people were not only
crooks; but also lacking the milk of human kindness. The sacrifices that God
preferred over and above the Temple offerings were the below:

"Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause
of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." (Isa 1:17)

"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than
burnt offerings." (Hos 6:6)

So "doing good" consists of doing what's right, and seeking kindness and
fairness across the board for everyone; including the disadvantaged and the
disenfranchised.

The US Government has been notoriously negligent in doing good by its
chronic failure to honor its treaties with Native Americans. Not long ago I
read in my local paper about 50 years of Federal foot-dragging in respect to
honoring its commitment to provide tribes situated along the Columbia River
with fishing villages to replace the ones that were obliterated due to
construction of The Dalles dam. Well; God takes note of that sort of thing;
nobody is getting by with anything.
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Heb 13:17 . . Heed those who lead you, and submit to them; for they keep
watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this
with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Christianity is not a democracy. No; it is a theocracy with a monarch at its
head-- a monarch who regards dissent and disobedience as heresy and
insurrection.

"Has The Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying
the voice of The Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed
than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and
insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry." (1Sam 15:22-23)

If perchance Christ's believing followers should find themselves under church
leadership that they cannot-- in all good conscience --respect, follow, and
obey; and/or simply cannot give their whole-hearted, unreserved support;
then it's time to abandon ship and move on rather than remain and rack up
negative points against themselves that will most certainly erode their
reward when they stand before the King for their personal evaluation.
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