Exodus 7-8 / Psalms 60-61 / Romans 12
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.
This command is about the fear that's naturally in the humans to protect themselves and be afraid of anything and everything they sense might threaten what they have, what they're holding onto for dear life without even having to think about it because that is the instinct of man the animal to do and keep doing for himself in this world full of hostile animals trying to get what he has. Underneath all the civilized thought and talk about how cultured and sophisticated the humans are (which to no surprise comes from themselves), they are just like wild animals in a big forest covered with that veneer of sophistication trying to survive. Paul's command is based on what he's just said in the previous thought, that the sons shouldn't conform any longer to the pattern of this world of animals trying to survive the best way they know how—each one of them to and for their selves.
This command—to lay down my life—I received from my Father.
The pattern of the Father and His world is not abstract religious thinking that has nothing to do with what's living deep inside the human, but speaks directly to that animal who is merely trying to survive in the world full of the same thing. The pattern of the Father's world and reality is of His own sons hearing His voice and responding with a respect of love, unlike Adam who disregarded His voice and command. Adam did what the helper wanted him to do, and the helper did what the envious animal wanted them to do, which was to follow him, to lead the son astray and away from the Father by deceiving him and promising him something better, which did by the way look better on the outside, but it had the seed of death inside.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The pattern of this world is what the humans must submit to without any choice because the nature that lives in them is one with the world and what's in it, and it compels those that are in the world to survive at any and all cost like everything in the world, whether plant or animal, is driven by instinct to just do and continue to do. One of the biggest tendencies of that nature is to think of oneself more highly than one ought, because that's how they best feel like they're emotionally surviving on a day to day basis, after their physical need to survive is apparently being satisfied. The human animals are more advanced than the other types of animals so they're able to build up supplies and reserves of food to satisfy that need to keep eating and drinking to stay alive. The need to survive in other ways is still in them so it gets transferred to more subtle, less tangible yet more prolific areas like the mental and emotional. That's where this need to think more highly about oneself comes out, so that one can feel like they are surviving better, so they can find that agreement with themselves that they are on top of their own particular little trash heap, just as each of the others is driven to find that same sort of agreement within themselves.
That's another reason the sons of God have to come away from the animal nature, because of this and many other built in features that one must be subject to if one is led by it. Recall the quarrels that the disciples of Jesus got into about who was going to be greatest in the kingdom of God, and Jesus' response in telling them that God's way isn't like man's way, who must always assert himself to be better, smarter, more powerful, etc. because of that built in need to survive. He told them that those who are first in this life are last in God's kingdom of sons, the true family that will endure forever. He demonstrated this by washing their feet, a supreme act of deference between humans, one that only a slave would be engaged in. That is why Peter was so against Jesus washing his feet, because it was such an abhorrent thought to think of the master washing his disciples feet. That is the way of God vs. the humans, which is why Jesus did not take what he was entitled to, but instead took the road that no human would naturally take. He was the Messiah, and had the power to forcefully grab the kingship of David for himself (the substance of the temptation account), but he denied that power because he was taught by God how to choose the right way (what no human would choose) and reject the wrong way (what they always choose because of their nature).
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The pattern of this world is to continue to just remain in the condition that all the humans are in and don't even know it, that is, led by the nature that is in them by instinct, just because they're humans and therefore have that nature. There aren't exceptions to that rule—every human is bound to the animal nature, which gets set into them once they pass over from child (when they don't need it as much) to adult (when they need it in order to survive because they're on their own then and have to learn how to survive and possibly even protect their own little children who will also grow into the same nature when they become of age). Going back one step further in the passage, what starts off the chapter and defines the tone of this particular argument about how the sons of God should act (Paul was speaking to genuine sons of God who were living under the new covenant), Paul tells the sons how to worship God "in spirit and in truth."
I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
The sacrifice is to not follow the urges that are naturally in them, what is their first reaction in all circumstances according to that animal need to survive and be better than the others, as a compulsion. To those who were genuine members of the family of God, the true sons of God, that way of acting, being led by the instincts that were naturally in them, was a big problem because God's way, of accepting each other as brothers, is not man's way, which is to push the others away because they are a natural threat to what the humans thinks it needs to hold on to for dear life.
Man's way can be no other way than as dictated by the animal nature that's in him, which craves to be better so it can feel like it's surviving more adequately than if things were out of its control and left up to another humans, which is always its natural enemy because they both want the same things—to be on top. The exception is that this rule doesn't apply to those who have the same DNA, because that's the copy of how God feels toward His own sons, and how He wants them to feel about each other—that they are highly valued by God, and therefore should be regarded as such valuable treasure, as Jesus valued the disciples who were God's treasure, so he took care of them instead of exploiting them for his own gain.
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
The best course of daily activity, in order to truly worship the Father in spirit (where He lives, according to His way, not the humans'), is to every day renew that understanding of who we are to the Father, and the value of His sons to Him. It isn't in ritualistic tendencies, or seeking after more knowledge, which is just a cover up, and which in reality only serves our own selves—it makes us feel that we're better, that we're okay because we know more things about God so we feel like we're surviving better. What we're actually doing is being led by the animal, while we're thinking that we're doing good because of our subject matter—the things of God, so everything we do is self-sanctioned as good because it's got that "good people doing the work of God" seal on it.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The way to the Father is so wrought with the deceptions of that instinctual nature of survival (referred to as satan, the devil, the old man, the flesh, the serpent, etc. within the preserved words). The voice of the Teacher longs for us to hear and obey, to trust him instead of what we want to do ourselves because we know how. There are so many things hidden inside our heart that we're holding on to and refuse to let go of because of the fear of being naked and alone, without the protection that we learned to employ as that very nature we're talking about, what Paul urged the sons of God to become a sacrifice to, how to actually please the Father instead of ourselves. Those things are very subtle and hard to identify, especially to us whom they live in, because it's the nature of that deceiver to not be found out, so we don't want to find them because that which rules us commands us to not do that, and we refuse to come out from under that one's rule because we like to hide there—we've learned to become comfortable there.
I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
We can't come in to the family until we stop taking refuge in the enemy's tent, because we continue to remain unclean that way, and no unclean thing enters the house of God where it will pollute the others who are actually doing what is necessary to be clean for the sake of the Father and the other sons, and the house where they live. The animal in us wants to be wild and not conform to another identity, because it's happy and comfortable with the one it already has. It doesn't need to make adjustments for the sake of anyone because it lives by what it learned to be conformed to; that is, the pattern of this world, what all animals are compelled to conform to because of the power it has over them, given to it by God Himself. But that is the very thing that God demands His sons to come away from so they can become clean, a spirit being who knows how to worship the Father in spirit, unlike the natural beings whom just live to die.
Consider what God did with His son Joseph, with whom He powerfully lived to clearly and miraculously interpret the things of the dreams of Pharaoh. By this God convinced Pharaoh to elevate Joseph to a powerful position and by that he was able to bring the nation of Israel, all 70 of them, into Egypt in order to preserve them. Now consider what God is embarking upon in the Exodus account, that He is in the process of convincing Pharaoh to exactly undo that process with Israel & Moses that He created with Joseph & Israel. While she was multiplying in numbers, God was getting ready to give birth to her as His wife. He was preparing the place where He would bring her so that she could live in peace and prosperity with her husband. The entire time she was growing in numbers in Egypt, the land of Canaan was being built up with fields, houses, wells and cities by those He would soon remove from the place.
When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you--a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant--then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.
He had gone to prepare a place for them, so that after He had miraculously extracted her huge number of persons from the land of slavery and oppression she could see that His hand was strong to deliver and protect her from her enemies and oppressors. Now that Israel was established, God's intention was to remove her from her oppression, marry her, and deliver her to the land promised to Abraham as the good husband, providing for His bride, allowing her to see His strength and ability to protect her and keep her safe. Ezekiel 16 is a good reference point for this discussion about God's intention regarding Israel at this time. This is in keeping with the natural copy we have, how that is the ultimate natural, instinctual desire of a woman in an earthly marriage relationship—to be cared for, protected, and provided for according to physical necessity and safety, for her and her offspring's sake.
It's important that we grasp by all of this movement the macro intention of God in regards to Israel, that He desired a wife who would recognize all of this and faithfully love Him for all that He was capable, and more importantly willing to provide for her in terms of needs, safety, and even luxury. It speaks to the fulfillment of what the humans are driven by the animal nature to want and need—to have this subconscious fear alleviated in them, the thing that makes them feel the constant need to preserve themselves, to fight this unending fear and knowledge of imminent death that produces full bloom when they mature and understand it for themselves. The curse of Adam put on man after he was denied access to the tree of life so that he could live forever.
It is, as already introduced by the above NT verse, what the Lord provided for his disciples, and the parallel to what God desired for His wife Israel, as they (disciples) also became the foundation of what would become his bride, the church. The Father rescued His bride from a great oppressor and delivered her to the land, the place where she could be free from the oppression of all enemies, free to worship Him as her LORD and husband. If they were faithful to recognize God as David did, as her protector, then she might "dwell in His tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of His wings."
In the same way the Lord provided a witness to his young bride, the 12 men who had been chosen for him, about his authenticity as the Son of God, his might and power to do miraculous things throughout the land—even having power over the natural elements:
In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."
He provided a place of shelter and food for them to eat while he was with them in the world and the promises of redemption. The more significant thing he provided for them was deliverance from the actual oppressor, what Egypt only symbolized as a copy of the permanent, spiritual reality. That is of course the animal consciousness which keeps the humans from knowing the truth about God and instead instills within them the fear of knowing that subconscious, ever-present reality of their impending death. There is no escape from that reality, not by the will of man or the strength of his power, however impotent that actually is.
That deliverance was accomplished by Jesus accepting the position as the Lamb of God and then laying down his life for these same men, shedding his blood as the perfect sacrifice—the only sacrifice God would accept which could consummate this marriage and achieve such a great deliverance from the merciless oppressor that is the old man, the devil, the sin nature. He became a curse, the serpent on the pole, so that he could save and deliver his bride from the curse of Adam, the nature of the serpent. Another glimpse at the macro story and intention of God with the humans, something done and then undone, delivered to and then delivered from an enemy, all for His purpose and will.
The parallels are astounding, even to both of them—as bodies made up of many distinct members—being extracted from an oppressor, only to be taken back into eventual captivity by another; the first by actual Babylon and the second by the mystery Babylon of John's Revelation. However we know that after a time in captivity Israel was brought back into the land to where she was originally delivered by her husband, the place where they could live in peace and prosperity. We also know that the true bride of the Christ, the foundation which was the 11 apostles plus another, eventually including Paul and some others—not too many but a few—was also taken into captivity sometime shortly after the apostles' earthly bodies were destroyed.
That brings us to now, after the long period of darkness, the time in which the reversal of this process has begun, when the Lord will begin pulling his bride out of the captivity of this elusive oppressor, and bring the purpose of God full circle back to the beginning so that His purpose can be fully realized and accomplished for both the Father and the Son, and both of their brides as one, becoming His people as the Father and the Son have become One. The only purpose God has with this natural creation is that out of it He will draw a family of sons who love Him, and have been tested to that end. This is the place and time when we choose to be in the family or not, whether we love our life more than we're willing to give it up for the sake of the family of brothers, the head of the family Jesus, and the Father of all the sons, the only living God.
The real, actual bride of God will be all of those men from the OT time who loved and trusted Him as David did. It is a metaphor for one who trusts her husband and is faithful to him. That is the group of the real sons of Abraham who lived by faith, whom God chose to reveal Himself and to whom righteousness was credited because they believed Him—based not on the truth of what they saw with their eyes and understood with their natural minds but something much better, hidden from the majority of the inhabitants of the earth. There are too many names to list, even of those who are recorded as part of the scriptural account of His people, by which we can draw knowledge as to that conclusion. However, we believe that when that list of sons is revealed, it will be a perfectly calculated and exact number, all of whom have been chosen by the Father.
Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
To make the blood of the Son of God available to anyone and everyone who had half a whim to want to get something from God (eternal survival) is to cheapen it, what the love of God has become to those who think He wants to cram as many half-hearted indifferents into heaven or the kingdom, or wherever else they think they deserve to go since they're all inherently so good, which they think is what will save them even though that can't make any sense, since it's so subjective, and can only mean anything to the individual on a case by case basis. The sons of God will be saved and delivered by the blood of the Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice of blood and death, because they're all one family which is offered up by both the Father and the Son to effect our deliverance from the bondage of death, what the animals cannot escape from.
This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the spirit who testifies, because the spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.