Monday, March 31, 2014

An Indictment Against the Priests of Israel (Part IV)

Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:10-11)

It seems that the Lord is speaking of the doors of the temple since these doors are in the same context as the altar. At this point, it may be helpful to present a literal translation of the Hebrew text, “Who (is there) also among you, and let him shut the doors, and do not kindle fire on my altar without favor.” The Lord is saying that He would rather the doors be shut, and the altar fire extinguished than endure any more hypocrisy and disobedience. The negative command do not kindle is speaking of a permanent prohibition. The same language is used in the Ten Commandments where God repeatedly says thou shalt not. The idea is that these things shall never be performed. The LORD of hosts who commanded that the altar fire never go out (Leviticus 6:13) would rather the disobedient hypocrite cease his false worship than continue to blaspheme God's holiness a moment longer. May God's people realize that the Lord cannot endure false religion. He would rather a church shut its doors than profane His name through disobedience. Isaiah 1:13 vividly reveals God's heart toward hypocritical worship, “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.” God will not permanently endure disobedience. He said to the Ephesian church of John's day, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (Revelation 2:5).”

I have no pleasure in you is the Lord's answer to hypocrisy and flesh-centered worship. These priests believed that they had some special place of favor because of who they were, but God respects the face of no man. Any church or so-called church operating outside of the bounds of Scripture has reason to fear this warning. God has no pleasure in the world's music, the world's dress, the world's talk or the world's thinking. He will not gloss over an absence of the fear of God in a service. He will not condone the sensual behavior of a man in his home or work place. He is not on any man's side; He is JEHOVAH of the armies. Let His people repent, or shut the doors and extinguish the fire! His answer to those who believe He is content with disobedience, or that He somehow condones sensual behavior may be found in Psalm 50:21, “...thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.”

The last verse is obviously millennial, though at least a partial fulfillment can be seen in the Church Age. Although many people from various nations have come to know Christ as Savior, the number will be astronomically higher in the millennial kingdom. The world will someday worship Christ. God's name, which is hideously blasphemed by all nations, will soon be the object of praise and offering. What a day that will be! In giving such an illustration as this, God is showing these priests the importance of the fear of God. Enamored with the religious rituals peculiar to their own nation, these men took a false security in their actions and came to the place where they were apathetic to God's high and holy name. The Lord exposes their faults by declaring that the purest offering is made by the one who has come to value and adore the fear of God. The Lord says, “ every place....” incense will be offered to His name. The most important thing is not that incense be offered at the temple location, but that the incense be offered by a man who fears and loves God's name. The location is irrelevant if the love is not present.

The word for heathen is the same word for Gentile. A false sense of dignity and sophistication can keep a man from remembering what he truly is apart from God. Those who are not Jews, “...being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world...(Ephesians 2:12),” are forever indebted to the grace of God which has made it possible for the heathen to be grafted into His good olive tree.   

Saturday, March 29, 2014

An Indictment Against the Priests of Israel (Part III)

And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:9)

The prophet pauses to make a heartfelt plea to these unholy priests. He asks them to beseech God for His grace. In the end, everyone needs God's grace. Apart from unmerited favor, a man hasn't any hope. Judaism focuses on reward for works, while the Bible teaches grace apart from works. These priests needed to cease from their hypocritical works and, in repentance, ask God for mercy and grace. Their lifestyle and attitude bore witness to the unregenerate condition of their souls. They were lost, and they needed the grace of God and the goodness of God that leads men to salvation. Man's need of God's grace has always been the message of Scripture. Noah “found grace in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8).” Abraham, in repentant faith, simply believed God, and God “counted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).” This was apart from any work of righteousness on Abraham's part. No man has ever been justified by his hypocritical works. These priests had well proven that they were rebellious and hypocritical; therefore, no ritual could cleanse them since their soul was lost. They simply needed to “beseech God” that He would be gracious unto them. This is the heart attitude in which the believer priest needs to live his everyday life. It is easy to slip into a self-righteous existence that produces abominable works before God; therefore, let every Christian live his day empowered by the grace of God. The phrase “this hath been by your means” is literally translated “by the hand of you this has been.” Even though they appeared to be serving God, their service was conducted under the power and blessing of their own hands. A Christian assembly may easily be as guilty. Nothing is easier than to put on the appearance of “church.” A man can preach in the flesh. People can sing in the flesh and teach in the flesh. A man can shake another man's hand and still have hatred in his heart. The outward appearance of religion can easily be imitated, yet God sees the heart. He is no respecter of persons.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Enemy of Sanctification (Part VII)

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25)

Wretched and miserable man is God's commentary on human nature, yet, this very nature with all of its vile passions and desires is what many Christians rely upon for counsel as they echo the world's poisonous philosophy of Let your heart be your guide! The answer to the entire discussion lies within the last verse. As in everything, the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer. His Spirit has rendered the old man's power ineffective, and though the old man is still present, he is no match for the finished work of Christ.

Sanctification is positional in Jesus Christ upon the moment of salvation (I Corinthians 1:2), yet practically, it is a life-long work (II Corinthians 3:18). Let every believer remember that his flesh is entirely opposed to this ongoing work, and will resist it in every way with ferocious tenacity. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Enemy of Sanctification (Part VI)

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” (Romans 7:18)

This verse stands as an excellent representative for the entire chapter. In a few words, it summarizes the main thought. That which is morally good is absent from a man's flesh. A literal translation serves as a good illustration, “For I know that (there is) not housed within me, that is in the flesh of me, good.” Paul the apostle is making this statement through the divine superintendence of the Holy Spirit. Paul was a man, a God-fearing man, but a man nonetheless. The problem of man's flesh is universal and unforgiving. Every Christian must come to the realization that his flesh is not his friend. How many people live their daily lives making choices based upon feeling rather than principle? Living by biblical principle seldom feels good, but it consistently yields the peaceable and pleasant fruit of righteousness. God's people must learn to live by His principles while in the easy road, because the hard road will only provide more temptation for the flesh to take the helm. Listening to the flesh and its desires is why people have ruined marriages, upset homes, undisciplined children, bad testimonies, inappropriate relationships, poor dress standards, corrupt music standards, a taste for bad doctrine and a host of other issues. Regardless of personal consequence and comfort, a man must choose to live by God's commands, and not by his flesh's counsel. Paul is careful to clarify that in his flesh nothing good dwells because the Holy Spirit lives within every believer, and of course, He is all that is good and upright.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. ” 
(Romans 7:19-23)

The Holy Spirit reiterates the hopeless condition of man's flesh. Paul knew what he should be doing but found that he could not do it in the flesh. A believer who has lived any length of time can identify with such a struggle. God's child knows that thoughts of bitterness are wrong, yet they creep in, and, if not checked, strangle a man's spiritual life and drive him away from God. Frustrated with improper feelings or evil desires, the Christian often has to stop and pray. How many times a day is a man reminded that he is in desperate need of God's grace and power?! And if he hasn't come to such conclusions, he is deceiving himself. Pride is ever at the door, just waiting to get the upper hand. One compliment can send a man's flesh on a speedy journey to rob God of His glory. One disappointment can move a man's flesh to instantly question God. Thoughts of hatred, pride, lust, fornication, murder, covetousness, envy, foolishness, are the best the flesh affords. That which the believer would do, his flesh cannot! Twice Paul has said, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. Such conclusions led him to the discovery of a irreversible law which states, “...when I would do good, evil is present with me.”

The word another in verse twenty-two means another (of a different kind). In contrast to God's holy law which delights the Spirit of God, Paul had discovered the law of sin which lives in the members of every man's body. This law of sin controls the flesh in every way. Should the passage end here, it would not only leave a man feeling utterly hopeless, but it would seem to contradict chapter six.   

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

An Indictment Against the Priests of Israel (Part II)

And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:8)

From this point to verse fourteen, the Lord expounds upon His last statement in verse seven. Unworthy sacrifices are still in focus, and the wicked attitude which prompted these sacrifices is now exposed.

Leviticus 22:22 forbids the offering of blind, sick or lame sacrifices. “Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.” These priests knew full well that such an offering would not be accepted by an official, yet they attempted to pass such things off to the King of heaven. Such is human nature. Carnal Christians attempt to offer God such things. Care and effort are bestowed upon the things that please self while God is given the weak, sick and blind. There is always time for entertainment, work, pleasure, social activities and family; yet, little or no time exists for Sunday school, or morning and evening worship. Wednesday night prayer meeting is far more an option for most of God's people than it is a priority. The day, in all its early and healthy potential, is not first offered to God. The Lord is expected to be pleased with the tattered remains of a flesh-controlled day as it is feignedly presented to Him in the evening under the guise that somehow much thought and praise were given to Him throughout its lost hours. Parents raise their children according to the doctrines of the world and then attempt to offer them up as useful once irrevocable damage has been done to their young hearts. The Christian's health and energies are not first given to God. The gods of laziness, gluttony, and undisciplined behavior are hurriedly sought after while the King who made the body is asked to be pleased with the worn-out, sickly, and tattered remains of a life and body that could have been useful. The blind, the sick, the lame! Such is what His people offer Him! As James exclaimed, “My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:10)!” Is He not the high and holy LORD of hosts?!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Enemy of Sanctification (Part V)

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Romans 7:14)

The inability of the flesh is the topic of the remaining verses. It will soon be seen that man's nature, apart from the good graces of God, is completely incapable of producing that which is good. God's law and man's flesh are diametrically opposed to one another. The law is intended to create controversy in a good sense. Human opposition to God's commands is completely normal and expected because all men are, in the flesh, carnal. The word sold is a participle in the perfect tense. This tense is emphasizing the fact that man's flesh is in a hopeless and irreversible condition of sin. Apart from God's indwelling Spirit, there would be no hope of victory. The Spirit of God working in the lives of people has always been the catalyst for good choices and spiritual victory. This is why David prayed to God, “...take not thy holy spirit from me (Psalm 51:11).”

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Romans 7:15-17)

The verb allow means to know, comprehend or understand. Paul is saying that the evil which his flesh continually produces is not what he desires or knows to be right. The things which he desires or wills to be so are not the things that his flesh produces; instead, his flesh continuously produces that which his inner man hates and knows to be wrong. The word consent means to agree with. This inability to continuously workout and produce that which is morally right should move a man to acknowledge the truth of God's law which says, “...there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not (Ecclesiastes 7:20).” This utter inability to workout or produce that which is good makes it clear that man's flesh has a serious problem, because even though the inner man desires to please God, his flesh cannot. It hates God's truth! The phrase that dwelleth is a participial phrase which is acting as an adjective modifying sin. A literal translation would read “the housed in me sin.” This participle is derived from the root word house. Sin is permanently housed in a man's flesh.

Monday, March 24, 2014

An Indictment Against the Priests of Israel

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.” (Malachi 1:6-7)

Transitioning into an indictment against the religious leadership of the nation, the LORD'S declaration concerning honor begins the discourse. Generally speaking, although moral degradation greatly affects the respecting of elders, a son shows at least some deference to his father. In the Jewish society of Malachi's day, this respect would have been far greater than what is present in the world today. Also, any servant with even a slight amount of common sense would see the value in giving regard to the wishes of the one who held much control over that servants future. Yet, the greatest Father and Master of all was being treated as though He was unworthy of even the honor paid to a common man. Twice in this book, God is called a father. Though used more extensively in the New Testament, the title of Father is not foreign to Old Testament thinking. The LORD wastes no time in getting to the heart of the issue. The fear of God was absent from the lives of the priests. Scripture places a high value on the fear of the LORD. One cannot read Scripture long before coming upon this holy, yet hated, doctrine. Proverbs 14:27 says, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” Concerning the character of the Lord Jesus Christ, Isaiah 11:2-3 declares “ And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him...the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD:” The character of the Messiah Himself is clothed with the fear of Jehovah; yet, the priests of Malachi's day so no need to seek after it. Man hasn't changed. In recent times, a low and compromising view has been taken of the fear of the LORD. Some have taught that this fear of God is nothing more than a healthy respect, while others have chosen to ignore the doctrine altogether; yet, the Scriptures bear record of its importance. The Hebrew text is clear. This word for fear means terror. “God is greatly to feared in the assembly of the saints (Psalm 89:7),” not because He is despotic or cruel, but because He is first and foremost holy, and His holiness demands the exercise of judgment against sin. If a person will be honest with themselves, a simple search of the soul through the use of Scripture will quickly reveal that a lack of the fear of God is at the heart of every sin. The very ones who should have been leading the nation toward the fear of God were the ones who were void of such fear. In fact, they had come to despise God's name. The root idea of the word despise is to attribute little or no worth to something. What a sad place for God's priest to be! The believer priest in Christ can find himself in the same position if not careful. The old man is ever present in the believer's earthly life, waiting to distract him from the value of God.

Israel's arrogant questions reveal their lack of sensitivity to the Lord. First, they commence with a rebuttal of their perverted attitude toward God's sovereignty. They have the audacity to ask, “Wherein have we despised thy name?” Questions such as this may be appropriate if man is making the indictment, but when the LORD of all points out an error, nothing but speedy conformity is proper. They are not asking these questions out of curiosity or a lack of understanding. As context will soon reveal, these questions are prompted by a rebellious heart. The Lord points out specifically how the priests were showing contempt for His name. He says, “Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar.” Instead of immediately acknowledging their wrong, they continue to argue (a certain sign of a rebellious heart). They return answer with a rebuttal of their polluted assessment of God's sacrifices, “Wherein have we polluted thee?” The LORD'S reply points out the reality of their unworthy sacrifices, “In that ye say, the table of the LORD is contemptible.” This last answer is very specific. Sacrifices may be polluted by more than one means. The priests had no respect for the importance of God's sacrifices; therefore, their attitude had polluted their actions, but their actions could not atone for their attitude. Sin is contagious. Holiness is not. The attitude and heart of the one offering the sacrifice has always been the primary concern of God. This may be seen in the example of the great passover which was kept in the days of Hezekiah, “And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the LORD God of Israel...And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the LORD. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good LORD pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people (II Chronicles 30:1, 16-20).”

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Enemy of Sanctification (Part IV)

For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” 
(Romans 7:9-11)

Paul came to a place where he realized that he himself was a sinner and condemned. What turmoil this must have wrought in him! The harder he tried to please God, the further into hell he slipped. Verse ten describes Paul's misinterpretation of the law. He believed that it could be flawlessly kept by man and would therefore bring eternal life. However, the longer he lived the more he came to realize the fallacy of this thinking. Instead of finding life in God's commandments, Paul was only condemned consistently as he struggled with his desires and thoughts. The act itself is not what ultimately condemns because the act is born out of a wicked motive or desire. The insincerity of Paul's flesh led him to believe that it could walk in God's commands, but the flesh's sin nature was emphasized as it tried to take hold of the law. The end result, Paul was spiritually murdered. In the end, he found himself to be as all men, a sinner.

Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Romans 7:12-13)

The flesh is very deceptive. If a man is not careful, he may find himself taking a negative view of God's law because of its condemning nature. The law condemns mankind, not because of a flaw on God's part, but because of wickedness on man's part. Law simply reflects the holy nature of its Author. God is holy, just, and all that is good. The fault always lies with man. With this in mind, sin is ultimately what sends a man to hell, not law. Verse thirteen provides one of the clearest purposes of the law in all of Scripture. It is given to mankind so that his sin might be seen as exceedingly sinful. People are masters of comparison. Everyone views themselves as better than the other, but God holds all men up to His standard and finds them wanting. God delights in men coming “...unto the knowledge of the truth...(I Timothy 2:4).”; therefore, He has provided His law so that man get an accurate view of his sin. This knowledge is then intended to drive a man to faith in the flawless and holy Son of God (Galatians 3:24).

The flesh consistently says, I can, but the Holy Spirit has exposed the insincere nature of the old man and shown him to be a liar.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Enemy of Sanctification (Part III)

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Romans 7:7-8)

The flesh's insincerity is boldly exposed in verses seven through thirteen. Everyone loves their flesh to some degree or another, yet, few people, yea, few Christians realize how deceitful and insincere the human heart truly is. The phrase the motions of sins, which were by the law might gender confusion in the minds of some, because without proper understanding of what is being taught, one might take this as meaning that the law causes people to sin; therefore, Paul opens the discussion of this next section by saying “...Is the law sin? God forbid!” In its insincerity and weakness, the flesh is deceived by sin which uses the law as a foothold, but the law itself is holy.

At this point it is important to understand the different verb tenses that Paul uses and the message that God is conveying through each tense. The first I had not known is focusing on a past action at some specific point in time. There was a point in Paul's life when he truly didn't understand sin. This ignorance was disrupted by the law which provoked Paul's conscience concerning his sin nature. The second I had not known is a different tense which carries with it the thought of a reality that holds true up until a certain point in time. The thought is this, “Up until a certain point in my life I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Then I realized that I was guilty of covetousness in my own life.” Prior to his conversion, covetousness may have been the one main thing that Paul was secretly ashamed of. He was a man of like passions. Though a warrior of God, he felt the same desires and emotions as others. There came a point in Paul's life when he realized, through exposure to God's law, that he himself, though a dedicated Pharisee, was covetous. The noun lust and the verb covet are from the exact same root. Both mean lust or strong desire. The command Thou shalt not covet could faithfully be translated Thou shalt not lust.

The word concupiscence is the same word translated lust. The presence of law brings to light the vileness of sin. People's wrong actions are amplified by the opposition of righteous principles. The verbs in verse eight are still focusing on a point in time action. Paul seems to be focusing on a past point in his life when he began to realize that he was lacking toward God. Such is the mercy of God, that He should go through the effort of providing man with such sources of conviction. Praise God for His mercy! The law that Paul thought he was keeping was only amplifying the destructive nature of his flesh. The phrase all manner has the idea of all kinds or to the full. Paul's law-keeping religion was sending him further and further into condemnation. In the Greek text, the definite article is omitted from the noun law, so that a literal rendering would be for without law, sin (is) dead. When the definite article is omitted from a noun, the character and essence of that object are being emphasized. The very nature of the law exposes sin; therefore, its presence breeds condemnation of the sinner.   

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Indictment Against the Nation of Israel (Part III)

Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.” (Malachi 1:4)

Due to Edom's participation in the destruction and slaughter of Jerusalem, God had promised that He would lay their land desolate (Ezekiel 35). It is somewhat difficult to pinpoint the exact details of Edom's “impoverishment,” but general history seems to be in agreement concerning at least three simple facts. First, Edom's power and prominence declined significantly after the captivity of Judah. The Nabateans (a people group with whom Edom traded) attacked Edom from the inside while under the guise of peaceful relations. They slaughtered the people and plundered the cities. Secondly, during the intertestmental period, the Hasmonian dynasty of the Jews subjugated the land of Edom.  This was at the least a partial fulfillment of Ezekiel 25:14. Lastly, the Romans turned on the Edomites after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. and killed them.  At the time of this prophecy here in Malachi, the Edomites had likely undergone the first of the three judgments just mentioned.

The response of Edom reveals their complete disregard for God and His ways. They say, “We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places.” The word impoverished means beaten down. God had ground Mt. Seir into the dust for its sin, and the only response Esau's descendants could muster up was one of arrogance. The Hebrew word for return is the same word often translated repent; however, in this case, the Edomites are not returning from their wicked ways, but rather they are turning back to them. Israel's heart was not much different at the time of this prophecy. God had allowed the destruction of northern and southern Israel in order that sin might be judged and the people might return to Him, but much of the population was slipping back into apostasy while projecting a form of godliness. People are no different in any dispensation. Christians are just as susceptible to such apathy and negligence. God's chastening ought to be received with fear and repentance. May God's child never be guilty of saying, “The Lord has beaten me down, but I will turn back and rebuild the fortresses of my rebellion!”

The next few sentences reveal God's hot displeasure against the attitude of Edom. He says, “...thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.” These judgments were at least partially fulfilled when the Macabees and the Romans subjugated Edom; however, Scripture consistently reveals that some future judgment awaits the land of Edom. In the last days, many of the ancient nations will be revived. This fact is revealed by many of the Old Testament prophets. Among the revived enemies of Israel will be found the land of Edom. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns to take His rightful place of rule in the revived city of Jerusalem, He will first deal a fatal blow to the God-hating Edomites. This truth is found in Isaiah 63:1-6 which says, “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.” While these verses describe the destruction of all Israel's enemies, Edom's judgment opens the discourse. Prior to establishing His one thousand year reign on this earth, God will forever deal with the continued rebellion of Esau's descendants. Concerning this miraculous event, the Lord says...

And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.” (Malachi 1:5)

Someday, in the not-to-distant future, Israel will be converted as a nation, and they will “...with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6).” In the end, God always gets the glory. Men can choose to withhold it, but God is not mocked. He has already promised “...I will not give my glory unto another (Isaiah 48:11).” As the people of Malachi's day listened to these words, they were faced with two choices- Repentance or Rebellion. May all who read these verses obey the life-giving principles found within.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Enemy of Sanctification (Part II)

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” (Romans 7:4-6)

As the widow is free to be married to another, thus may the believer be given in marriage to Christ upon the death of his old man. This death to the condemnation of the law has been accomplished by the body of Christ. As Christ hung upon the cross, He embodied the sins of mankind as II Corinthians 5:21 teaches, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” In the giving of His body for the sins of mankind, the Lord delivered all who will believe from the condemnation of the law as Colossians 2:14 declares, “ Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” The verb married means to be or to become. The believer literally stops being for the old man and becomes the property of his new Master, Jesus Christ. The purpose of serving the risen Lord is so that the fruit of good works might glorify God. The word for motions in verse five literally means sufferings or passions. These passions are the passions of sin. The fruit of the flesh always consists of wicked passions, and the end result is always death, death to self and death to others. Being led about by the flesh's passions and reasonings never benefited anyone. The verb delivered is the exact same word translated destroyed in 6:6. Paul is restating the fact that the power of the old man has been put down. The first that in verse six is being used as a relative pronoun to refer back to the condemnation of the old man under the law. This condemnation has been accomplished in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; and the believer is delivered from the old man; therefore, such things are now dead. The second that is used to state the purpose or the result of the deliverance. The purpose is so that the believer can now serve God in the power and blessing of the Holy Spirit. The Lord's Spirit is the one that brings forth fruits of righteousness, not the believer. When a Christian believes that he himself is the one who performs pleasing works before God, he has slipped back into a mindset of self-righteousness and attempts to live the Christian life in the “...oldness of the letter.”

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Enemy of Sanctification

The Holy Spirit has just finished a lengthy discussion concerning the realities of positional and progressive sanctification. Now He begins to reveal the enemy of sanctification- the flesh. The term flesh refers to the old man or the natural man. He is also represented as the carnal man. Some may be more familiar with the term human nature. Regardless of the term, the text will soon reveal that the flesh is not concerned with pleasing God. It is intensely selfish and unfathomably wicked. The heart, with all its motives, passions, and desires, is as Jeremiah said “...deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked...(Jeremiah 17:9).”

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” 
(Romans 7:1-3)

Verses one through six describe the flesh's incompatibility. Christ has released the believer from the power of his old man; therefore, the old nature is incompatible with the believer's new life in Christ. Paul uses the example of biblical marriage to demonstrate this. With divorce and remarriage so rampant in Christian circles, this illustration may seem out of place for some. However, if marriage is viewed from a biblical perspective, this illustration fits perfectly, because the entirety of Scripture reveals that God does not allow for divorce and remarriage. In God's eyes, only death frees a man or woman from their vows. The example of a woman is used, but the tables could be reversed and applied to the man as well (Mark 10:11-12). Should a spouse, regardless of the circumstances, be divorced and remarried, he or she now bears the stigma of adultery. One must die in order for the other to be entirely free from that bond. The verb is bound is in the Greek perfect tense. Being the strongest tense know in biblical Greek, the grammar is reinforcing the fact of marriage's permanency. The idea is that this woman is permanently bound to her husband by her vows. This is regardless of circumstance or situation. She is that man's wife and only death can break such a bond. This example demonstrates the hopelessness of the natural man's religious lifestyle. Man is permanently wedded to his old nature and cannot please God outside of the regenerating work of the Spirit of Christ.

An Indictment Against the Nation of Israel (Part II)

I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” (Malachi 1:2-3)

Next, the text transitions into the LORD'S declaration concerning love. The first thing to be noticed is the King of this declaration. The LORD of hosts is saying, “I have loved you....” What an amazing declaration! This statement comes from the King of all. The One Who has no need of man's assistance, yet He desires to have fellowship with His creation.

Secondly, the compassion of this declaration may be seen. Truly, at this point in Israel's history the nation's people had many reasons to believe that God had loved them. God had worked a miracle in the heart of king Cyrus, thus enabling Israel to return from exile and rebuild the temple and the Jerusalem walls. The people once again had the blessed opportunity to worship God according to the mandates of the law. God had delivered them from the opposition and reinstated them in their own land. Despite their past rebellion, God had shown them amazing grace. Ezekiel 16:3-6 is one of the clearest passages concerning God's love for the nation of Israel, “Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.” In like manner, He has said, “Live” to all mankind by offering salvation free through faith in Jesus Christ. Every born again Christian has much for which to be thankful. God “has loved” the believer. His Spirit works repentance in the hearts of men. His Son has paid the penalty of sin. The Father has reached out in grace and delivered the repentant sinner. He has loved mankind!

Israel's ungrateful question declares the callousness of their hearts. The insensitive nature of the question stands out. They ask, “Wherein hast thou loved us?” What a sad response to such a merciful God! Their deliverance from Egypt had not led them to an attitude of gratefulness. God's mercy in reinstating them in their own land had not moved them to eternal gratitude, but rather they display an attitude of indifference and ungratefulness. If not careful, a Christian can have the same attitude toward God. When one forgets to walk in the fear of God, gratitude gets pushed out. Ingratitude is not a fruit of the Spirit. It is a manifestation of the wicked flesh. How easy it is for a man to forget that from which God has delivered him! How easy it is to take God's daily blessings for granted. If not careful, one will begin to believe that he has somehow earned God's grace! The dark pathway of ingratitude is the same pathway trod by the degraded heathen described in Romans chapter one.

There is also an illogical nature to this question. Simple logic would tell a man that Israel had much for which to be grateful. In all of world history, never had a nation survived such tempests. Over and over again, God had preserved them from complete annihilation. Sometimes it would serve a man well to stop and think logically concerning why he should be grateful.

The LORD'S reply concerns Jacob's selection and Esau's rejection. By giving this response, the LORD is making it clear that were it not for His grace and intervention in Jacob's life, Israel would be no better off than Esau. This admonition would have been particularly distasteful to the Jewish people because the Edomites were long-standing enemies. Esau and Jacob were from the same family. Both men had issues of sin and rebellion; therefore, Israel could not boast of a special privilege based upon lineage alone. Their selection and deliverance was due to the merciful hand of God. The declaration, “...I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau....” has caused some consternation for people. This passage has also been inappropriately used to justify feelings of personal hatred toward others. Numerous passages throughout the Bible make it clear that God is not a God of hatred. He is a God who desires to relieve the oppressed (Psalm 146:7). He is called love in I John 4:8. The depths of His love and mercy are ultimately realized in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. No doubt exists that God is a God of immeasurable love. The key to properly interpreting this phrase is to understand that God's primary attribute is holiness. Isaiah 57:15 says “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy....” Holy may be considered an appropriate name for God. Often times in the Old Testament He is referred to as the Holy One of Israel. The demons which were cast out by Jesus Christ referred to Him primarily as The Holy One of God. In the book of I John, God is called Light before He is ever called Love (I John 1:5). Therefore, all of the ways, thoughts, motives, desires, actions, and attitudes of the wicked are in complete opposition to God. He is against the wicked and their ways (Psalm 11:5, 31:6). Unlike mankind, God does not display an uncharitable attitude of self-centered hatred toward people. He hates the very principles and practices of sin; therefore, those who choose to reject Him and serve Satan and his ways are worthy of falling under God's holy hatred. When men ultimately choose to hate and reject God, God hates and rejects them and their ways. God hated Esau and His ways because neither Esau's heart nor the hearts of his descendents was ever toward the things of God. In Scripture, Esau is referred to as a fornicator and a profane person (Hebrews 12:16). Just like their father, the nation of Edom never sought God at any time. Their religion and conduct was consistently vile. Knowing full well that Esau would reject the ways of righteousness, God rejected him and focused His attention on Jacob. Jacob struggled with sin as well; however, God knew that eventually he would come to a place of God-fearing faith, so God “loved” Jacob and patiently led him along. Jacob's selection was not due to any inherent goodness within him, but rather, it was due to God's grace and His ability to foresee the choices of both brothers.

In the last part of this verse, a warning may be seen to Israel. In vengeance upon the wickedness and depravity of the Edomites, God had destroyed their land. God is no respecter of persons; therefore, if He brought judgment to Edom for their wickedness, He would also bring judgment upon Israel. The same message holds true today. No Christian is permitted to serve sin due some false sense of security. God will chasten His people without regard to person. May the believer never forget what he would be were it not for God's divine intervention. His goodness leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Monday, March 10, 2014

An Indictment Against the Nation of Israel

The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.” (Malachi 1:1)

This blessed book commences with the LORD'S opening statement. This first verse portrays the heavy nature of God's words. The text says, “The burden of the word....” This word burden denotes severe judgment. A clear example of this fact may be seen in Isaiah chapters 13-23. Within these chapters God declares the burdens of Babylon, Philistia (Palestina), Moab, Damascus, Egypt, Edom (Dumah), Arabia, the Valley of Vision, and Tyre. All of these “burdens” are followed by a pronouncement of severe displeasure and just judgment. Due to disobedience, oppression, injustice, and spiritual apathy, God is about to proclaim His displeasure with Israel. These heavy words should not be taken with a light heart. The sins spoken against in this book are alive and well in the hearts of all men; therefore, these heavy words must be pondered with humility. These words are heavy because they come from a heavy heart. God's heart is saddened when people reject Him, especially people who should know better. Ezekiel 6:9 says, “...I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols....” Sin always breaks God's heart.

This opening statement also portrays the holy nature of God's words. The text says that these words are from the LORD. When the KJV uses all capital letters for the name LORD or, in some instances, GOD, the high and holy name of JEHOVAH is behind it in the Hebrew text. This name was so feared and revered in the Hebrew mind that it was not fully translated, thus no one knows for certain just how to say it. Man knows no higher name for his Creator. In light of this fact, these words should be studied from the perspective of godly fear. The word of God is not a mere book or some novel to be enjoyed. It is not simple history. It is a compilation of infinitely preserved words written by the hand of JEHOVAH.

Lastly, this opening statement denotes the healing nature of God's words. In His grace, God saw fit to make these words known to Israel and peoples of all dispensations so that men might repent and be healed. God is not bent on the destruction of all mankind. On the contrary, He is “...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9).” Had Israel repented at the preaching of Malachi, God would have granted restoration. All throughout this book, He pleads with them to return to Him. Since His word is infinite and applicable to any dispensation, He pleads with the hearts of men today through these same words. The applications are different, yet the message is the same; therefore, let these words be read with reverence and godly fear, for they are heavy words from a heavy heart; they are holy words from a holy God; and they are healing words for the repentant sinner.

Note: If you would like to have personal study before reading these commentaries or would like to see a full outline of the book of Malachi, please visit the Supplemental Materials and Outlines Page.  These materials are being developed to help those looking for aid in preparing Sunday School lessons and/or desiring personal study helps.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Spiritual Baptism (Part V)

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:15-16)

The remaining verses deal with the revoking of the slave's contract. Everyone serves a master; however, not everyone is aware of it. A person serves either Satan, directly or indirectly, or he serves God. No one is completely free as he may imagine, because “...of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage (II Peter 2:19).” This principle applies to the believer. A carnal Christian is not simply rebelling against God's commandments; he is allowing his flesh to enslave him. He indirectly serves the devil. Such choices never yield profitable results. Misery, discontent, broken relationships, and unfruitfullness are just a few examples of the death that sin breeds. How much better is it to acknowledge one's place in the service of God and enjoy the fruits of spiritual life, fruits such as peace, contentment, joy, love, and the fear of God? This is the second time in this chapter that Paul rebukes the concept that grace gives license. The believer is never without law. He is free from the law's condemnation, yet he is “...not without law to God, but under the law to Christ (I Corinthians 9:21).”

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto 
holiness.” (Romans 6:17-19)

Obedience not born from the heart is not a lasting obedience. Some people joyfully receive truth in a superficial sense; the seed falls on “stony ground.” But the true convert receives the word of God from the heart; the seed falls on “good ground,” and the person's salvation experience is manifested by his fruit. The verb delivered is actually a second person plural passive. The action is being performed on the subject, which in this case is the audience to whom the book is written. With this in mind, the understanding would be, “...that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” The Christian has been handed over to God's doctrine upon the moment of salvation. This is his irrevocable position in Christ. God is a jealous Master, and He will not allow the slave to return permanently to his old ways. This is a comforting thought. A believer does choose to sin (...the infirmity of your flesh...), yet God has delivered him unto heavenly doctrine; therefore, he is not free to remain in the pathway of sin. Repentance must come or severe chastening will ensue (I Corinthians 11:30).

The word for servant is the same word for slave. The Christian is not set free to make his own way in this life; he is set free to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. The desire to be freed from the superintending hand of God reveals one of two problems: the problem of rebellion and carnality, or the problem of an unregenerate heart. Before the believer's salvation, the Bible says that he serves uncleanness and lawlessness (iniquity). This truth is directly contrary to the world's belief of good works and morality. After salvation, the believer is told to yield (present or standby) his members to righteousness. The ultimate goal is a life of holiness that brings glory and honor to God. The most basic idea of holiness is that which is set apart. The believer has been forever set apart from the world in position. This is why so much conflict exists when he attempts to return to his old ways. With God's primary attribute being that of holiness, He expects His people to pursue this same attribute. The believer's life is to be consumed with the Spirit's work of “...perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Corinthians 7:1).”

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23)

What a hopeless condition to be in! Before a man finds Christ, he is freed from the very concept of hope and is the slave of that which brings death- sin. This is why the question is then asked, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.” Why would a man want to return to attitudes and actions that breed death? The last verse is often quoted to the lost; yet, it must be acknowledged that this passage is first written to saved people. All too often, people think of this death as being solely separation from God in hell; this is only a surface understanding of sin's ways. Sin's wages are always wages that smell of death. Quarreling, lust, covetousness, anger, rebellion are all sinful actions born from a sinful heart. These actions and attitudes breed death in the sense that they destroy relationships, tear people down, and cast a stumblingblock before those who may otherwise seek God. Paul is not telling a Christian that he can lose his salvation, but rather he is reinforcing the truth of sin's destructive nature. The zenith of that destruction being a lost man's separation from God in hell. On the other hand, a Christian can choose to live in the fruits of eternal life offered by Jesus Christ. A home in heaven is simply one aspect of this. The gift of eternal life offered through Jesus Christ will produce fruits of righteousness here in this life if applied daily. Attitudes and actions of holiness, mercy, contentment, peace, submission all produce results which characterize the eternal life offered in Christ Jesus. Through these types of behaviors, people are helped, relationships are healed, the wicked are admonished, the seeker is pointed to God, and the Christian edifies and encourages others with the eternal life that he enjoys in “...Christ Jesus our Lord.” If a believer serves sin, he will reap the wages of that sin which is death. This death will greatly hinder the ongoing work of sanctification that God wants to perform in his life. It will also wreak havoc in the lives of others. However, if a believer serves righteousness, he will enjoy the gift of eternal life. This eternal life will permeate his lifestyle and aid in the sanctifying work that God wants to perform in his soul. It will also serve to bring spiritual healing into the lives of others.

In summary, the power of sin in the flesh has been completely overcome by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. In position and in practice, the believer has been given the power to say No to sin. The old inner man has been identified with Christ's death, and the new inner man has been identified with Christ's resurrection. This same truth is taught in Colossians 2:11-13 when it says, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Praise God for spiritual baptism!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spiritual Baptism (Part IV)

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14)

Verses twelve through twenty-three deal with the results of spiritual baptism. What may appear at first glance to be a direct commandment to the believer in verse twelve is actually a third person commandment to sin with indirect application to the believer. English does not use third person commands; therefore, when one appears in the Greek text, the King James translators used the word let. Literally, God has told sin that it no longer has permission to reign over the believer. The removal of sin's kingship in the Christian's life is a set reality that cannot change. Because this is so, and because sin has been commanded to step down from its place of rule, the believer is then directly commanded in verse thirteen to stop yielding to its ways. Neither yield ye is a second person plural command rather than a third person singular such as the one in verse twelve. It is also a command that carries with it the idea of “stop doing an action that is currently taking place.” God knows our tendency to serve the old master, even when such unspeakable victory has been given. The word yield means to present or, literally, to stand by. Sadly, this is how many Christians live. They spend much of their lives “standing by,” waiting to satisfy the next carnal desire or respond to the next sensual feeling. God says, “Stop standing by for sin and start standing by for Me.” The second command to yield the members is slightly different and carries with it the thought of beginning an action not yet started. Rather than having the body's members available to present to the old master, the holy Master wants those members to be available for His service.

The last verse has been a difficult verse for some. The basic idea is that sin can no longer use the unalterable standard of the law as a foothold to fight against the believer. Romans 7:11-13 is a good example of this concept. In summary, sin's kingship has been removed solely by God's power, and because of this, the believer is able to obey the command to cease standing by for sin's purposes. Bad motives, thoughts, desires and actions no longer have to be the norm. A Christian can have victory. If a man cannot get the victory over sin, he is either unaware of the victory which the Bible teaches or he is not truly redeemed. Victory comes by the Spirit of Christ, yet, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:9).”

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Spiritual Baptism (Part III)

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:8-11)

Lastly, spiritual baptism's resurrecting nature is seen. The death of the old man is only half of the story. What hope would there be in the death of the old man if the life of the new man was not given? This new nature imparted to the believer is the Spirit of God. It is the seed spoken of in I John 3:9, the seed of God which has no desire to sin. This new life which the believer experiences is eternal. As Christ was raised to die no more, even so the believer is granted irrevocable eternal life. The verb hath...dominion over is from a root that means to lord over. The noun form of this verb is often translated lord or Lord. Just as death no longer lords over Christ in the grave, it no longer lords over the believer and his future. Resurrection and eternal life are now the blessed hope.

The word once means once for all. Christ died once for the sins of all mankind. He did not die for a select few, nor did He die for just those who would accept Him. Even though not all will be profited by His death due to a choice of rejection, He nonetheless died for all. The text says that Christ liveth unto God. The tense of the verb liveth carries with it the meaning of continuous present action and could accurately be translated is living. At any moment in time, Christ is continuously living unto the glory of the Father. This bespeaks of His eternality, but it also speaks of His obedience and holiness. As the Lord said in John 6:38, “...I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” In reflecting the Spirit of his Redeemer, the born again Christian is to be continuously living unto God. The word reckon literally means to log down. The believer should log down the fact of his obligations toward God. He is raised anew not for the purpose of serving self, but God. The Spirit of Holiness who now indwells the Christian is a servant of the Father. He has the same motives, desires, and goals, and He will not be content with anything but wholehearted service to the King. These verses end by driving home the fact that this service is made possible only through the agency of Christ's divine Person.