1 Chronicles 17 / Ezekiel 29 / Galatians 3-4
Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said:
"Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, O God, you have spoken about the future of the house of your servant. You have looked on me as though I were the most exalted of men, O LORD God.
"What more can David say to you for honoring your servant?
"There is no one like you, O LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth whose God went out to redeem a people for himself, and to make a name for yourself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You made your people Israel your very own forever, and you, O LORD, have become their God."
God set up ceremony and ritual for the people of Israel to practice throughout the year, every year. He wanted to establish a group of human animals who were set apart from the other non-chosen human animals, those who were holy and devoted to Him, some way of setting them apart from everyone else. What drove that desire is simple—He wanted to be remembered, which says a lot about the nature of man, who forgets God because He is hidden. Man naturally like the things he can see, buy, own and control. Man wants a god that he can understand, not one that remains a mystery to him, as God does with the humans. Nevertheless, even though God was hidden from them, He showed Himself to them but not in a way they could take for themselves like they could an idol carved out of wood or a hunk of gold formed into the likeness of an animal. They could see those things with their eyes and they didn't have to wait for them to come around (they never left).
Within the law that was given to Israel to set them apart from the common animals there was a hidden message, however not hidden at all. The reason it seems hidden is because it got buried by the humans under everything they made that law into, for their own purposes, just like they make everything into so they can own and control it, so it doesn't ever have to go away from them—so they don't have to patiently endure while they wait for the Father to give them what they need, because they want to be able to decide for themselves (like the first humans wanting to grab the fruit they falsely assumed would do them good instead of being happy and content with what the Father provided them).
The hidden message was clearly about certain things, and underneath those was the simple idea of God wanting them to go against what was naturally in them to want to do and be, and instead seek something higher than what they were constantly propelled to be driven to be—like a common animal in the forest which is driven to survive. A wild animal feels threatened and it doesn't even think, but just acts in response to the driving fear and kills what's in its way (do not kill). It sees what it needs and even though another animal might have it that's not an issue for it (unless the other animal would clearly overpower it), so it just goes and takes it away and owns it for its own purposes (do not covet). It is driven by instinct, so when the instinct wells up inside, it just acts on that and it doesn't matter who that is (your neighbor's wife). The animal doesn't care about another's rights or purpose to also survive in peace; if it can exploit another to get what it needs it just does it, because it's driven to self-protect, and it won't protect anything else unless that thing can help it survive better (take care of the orphans, widows, aliens and the poor among those who are your brothers). There are many things in the law which break down to a simple idea: go against what's naturally in you to drive you by instinct like the wild animals, and seek something higher than the direction where that always tends to lead you.
'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
If all the law and prophets hang on these two things then they must be important. Their importance lies in what they reveal about the hidden God, whose purpose is secret and hidden from the humans—although He does provide clues (like the verse above). The first of the two commandments is about God wanting to be a Father to a specific group of sons who are hidden as He is. While He remains hidden and mysterious to the humans, at the same time He wants to reveal Himself to certain of them. What He wants to reveal to them is that He is their true Father and is calling them to be in the family that He is the Father of, along with the other sons whom are also specifically being called. It isn't a generic calling where anyone and everyone is invited, because that would make God into a being who doesn't have a preference and therefore indifferent to His children. His love would be watered down and worthless if that were the case. So the hidden message of the first one is that God is the Father of a secret family of sons, whom He specifically calls to become what He wants them to be.
The second is like it not just because it's about love, but because it reveals another secret about the mystery of what the secret Father is doing—that is, gathering up His secret family of sons to be with Him where He is. It addresses the way the sons who have been called into the hidden family treat each other. Very specifically, not like the humans treat each other—wild animals who consider each other a very real threat to their dilemma of needing to survive—but like those who see each other's value since they understand that they have, like themselves, been specifically called by the Father to become what He intends them to become, a part of the secret mystery that has been revealed in private to each. Nothing about the real God is so simple and plain as to just be able to be figured out by humans, which is the presumption of those who claim to know the way to the God they assume to have figured out—evidently because God must be so simple and plain to just be able to be figured out by stupid humans who don't want to search for the hidden God, because they can't. They just make up their gods based on whatever seems good to them—bible, koran, crystals, nature, etc—because they need their gods to be in the form of things they can figure out and control, how they want their lives to be.
The law was put in charge until the Christ came.
The Christ gave God the family He wanted with Him where He is, hidden from the rest of the animals. What the Christ did was be and remain what none of the humans ever were able to do—untouched by the cursed nature, pure and clean, like his Father. If we put ourselves in God's position we might gain some perspective about how things are. While the whole world of men come and go and couldn't give two thoughts to God all their lives; still He has always wanted a family, a people who understand His love for them and, who are able to love Him back. The true sons of God will recognize, contemplate and behold Him for what He is, because they know Him and are known by Him; therefore they are a people who love Him.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
The other group of humans is all those whom He hasn't chosen to become sons because that's the way He set it up and wants it to be. They exist as merely another piece of the temporary creation as it exists in its present form; beautiful (when it hasn't been ravaged by the humans) yet based on temporary cycles of death, so always only temporal for everything in it. The animals come into this world and live their lives doing what animals do, then they die without a clue about the creator. The same is true for the humans, who are effectively bound to the animals via the same nature of instinctual cravings, fear and hiding from what's true. There are plenty of lies floating around them they can latch on to about whatever ultimate reality they want to make up and adhere to. Whatever they eventually "believe" doesn't change what is observable and obvious, that things exist for a while and then they expire and get sucked into the ground where they become one with the rest of the observable creation.
The thing that controls everything about the human animals is their collective instincts toward survival that start to wake up shortly after they're born. These get perfected as they go along and fully bloom when they need to become an animal which can care for another, so the cycle of terminating existences can continue along as it does and has unchanged since anyone can know. The observable natural reality is what the humans live and die for, which is clearly just a bunch of cycles of death for the participators (plants and animals) as the creation keeps going along as per its usual course. Not in an endless linear fashion (that is, forward without end), but in circles like the earth spins and orbits, always coming back to where it started e.g., one plant or animal dies and becomes food while another plant or animal takes its place because of it.
Even in their knowledge about this reality of the way things are, which can be clearly seen by observation, there exists something in them that makes them think/believe they are more than just another piece of the big machine. They always feel that they're worth more than just being like an ant that does its job and then dies while going about the same. In other words, the humans aren't very easily given over to an attitude of humility as their primary operating mode as they go through life, probably just because that would be too devastating. The reason isn't because they haven't yet attained to their peak of what might be called enlightenment. The reason is because of their nature that binds them to the natural creation, what they are a total slave to because of the animal instincts that are built right into them, what controls and guides them just as it does every animal (because that's what they are).
Their instincts to do and be what all animals are start with physical survival, then when/if that seems to be met there is another type of survival, which is the egotistical component of that nature which is a little more elevated in the humans than the other animals (because they originally were made according to an image that is like God's). It's more abstract than merely having enough food to eat, yet still geared toward the same type of self-preservationist behavior, just shifted to accommodate another purpose since their physical needs are being met. It is the tendency away from understanding things as they are, which should produce a significant attitude of humility; and toward feeling worthy and special, a phenomenal bias that spreads across all of the humans so that each one feels that same kind of pull to think they are worthy and special at the expense, or compared to, everyone else, on that very fundamental level of their own particular thoughts. It's a necessary fundamental assumption about themselves—an irrational worthiness and self-importance—that provides the fuel which makes them want/need/be driven to survive.
It starts quite young as a natural drive and pull in them, existing as rudimentary reactions to their environment. Then as they progress, they become more complex and complete, and find a fulfillment in the formation of their own particular identity as the animal they are. Their instincts are with them and guide them through their existence until they are once again no more. There isn't much concern or awareness about this from the humans, because they don't have the ability to ponder reality outside of that bubble of their own ego, to separate themselves from their condition as animals who are just tied to and in a real sort of slavery to this proclivity and curse. They just go about their business, doing what animals do, surviving or building up, being good little ants who are programmed to be the way they are, clawing and scraping to get whatever they can and then some more to appease the fear that drives them.
This egotistical drive creates a preponderance toward setting themselves apart from the animals—for the good reason that they possess the ability to contemplate, scheme and make the creation work to their collective advantage. Ironically, they can only contemplate within that bubble of self-importance, so their nature isn't ultimately any better than the other animals. Neither is their destiny, because just like an ant, they are merely another, perhaps more significant but still just another, piece of this creation of cycles of existence followed by death, as per everything that can be observed. The only thing that can live on about any of the participants of this creation is some sort of enhanced memory of the particular creature e.g., Picasso is more remembered than most of the creatures that have ever participated in the natural creation. But Picasso isn't living at all, and there is no benefit to him at all by any of the present and future creatures remembering him, because he has no consciousness, and therefore cannot appreciate any of it.
The world is filled with people who, just like the other animals, can have little or no regard for this creation or its creator and sustainer. When you put it in certain logical terms, it does seem bizarre that humans, who do possess the ability for complicated thought patterns like contemplation, basically take the creation for granted. Such incredible beauty and intricacy even in the most banal of things—like a plant's growth or the unbelievable order in a honeycomb and the nest of bees that maintain it—seems to the humans for the most part pretty uninteresting. Even though man has the ability to contemplate and realize the majesty of God and this creation; he is that much more burdened by and imprisoned to his instincts, the animal nature, which make him a creature that can not and will not recognize God on any true level. Because of the power of those instincts, there is no capacity to do that.
Man differs from other animals in the sense that he actually has the ability to grasp the complexity and beauty of God's creation because of his intellect, which common animals seem to not possess. That may seem obvious, but it begs the question already posed—why doesn't the practical whole of humanity, then, understand, appreciate and respect what God has made; since even the tiniest sample of it is so painfully incredible? It's not reasonable, considering man's ability to reason, that it is so astounding yet so easily disposed of and disregarded.
Let's say we were to do an intense study on the develop of the common human embryo; considering the millions of occurrences which all have to happen over the period of a handful of months, all in the perfect order, for it to form correctly. If we were to ponder that, and then realize that it is such a tiny subset of the creation of God, we should be overwhelmed by its magnificence. But who ever does, or is? Maybe a handful of people here and there, yet the practical whole of humanity lives and dies and gives not one hoot about much except the most banal of things. It seems to make a sort of logical sense that if one were to properly be able to observe and contemplate the intricacy and complex beauty, one might consider a creator of it all was necessary. But even if they get to that point, they can only generally despise Him and regard God in terms of contempt instead of respect. So why are people this way?
The humans like all animals are driven by the instincts that are naturally in them, which begin forming and find their perfection when the individual reaches what the humans call maturity, something valuable to them. This is the curse they're under, according to what God "put on" them in the beginning, symbolized by the animal skins that were made and put on them by God, who administered that curse for His own reasons and purpose. It reduces them to the level of brute beast which cannot comprehend, and isn't driven by intellect but common instinct to do and be what it dies and is.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Paul is struggling to define it here, and he does a good job because he shows the "sinful nature" for what it actually is—not something that the "bad people" do, what he could merely divorce himself from if he thought that; but the urges, cravings, and impulses that came from within him that he couldn't control. In his mind he wanted to be a certain way (devoted to God) but he couldn't because those instincts, built right into his nature, were too strong and took him over, pulling him in another direction.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Here is a definition of what sin is, from the personal experience of Paul himself. The sinful nature is what God put on the humans—the urges, cravings, impulses, fears, physical and egotistical needs—that which makes up the instincts that are naturally in them. The instincts within the humans are what guides and defines them as what they truly are before Him—unclean animals who cannot come near Him because of that condition of their identity.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the spirit have their minds set on what the spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
There is a bias that people have when they think of "sinful," which colors their minds with thoughts of things the "bad people" do, prompted by the evil in them (what they think they can just divorce themselves from). Actually, though, evil is merely the state of being natural, unlike God is—unclean animals who cannot be brought near to God or ever know Him or be known by Him. It originates from the created (by God to serve His purpose as the real choice against Him) adversary—the god of this world, the god of the animal—what the humans were bound to way back when the curse was administered. Jesus refers to ordinary men as being evil, meaning not that they were like a "bad" person, but that they inherently weren't like God; stating that evil is just the normal state of the humans:
"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the holy spirit to those who ask him!"
His statement says that the humans are intrinsically not like God, which according to Jesus is just a matter of spiritual fact. This dissimilarity of nature is also what Paul is talking about in Romans. What Paul calls the "sinful nature" is just the animal instincts, the nature of the serpent that the humans were bound to in the beginning. The acceptance of this is necessary for the sons, as it is a kind of hidden key which unlocks the mysteries regarding the most fundamental definitions of God's purpose with man. It being removed from an individual (the good news for the sons, or "gospel") is the only way for an otherwise unclean, common animal to become a son of God as Jesus was, who was the firstborn amongst many brothers (not a god) who were born shortly after he went to the Father. This is what Paul knew was happening to/inside himself.
By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Not accidentally, the instincts that guide the humans separately are all pretty much the same within the race of the humans and animals too—primarily to survive and getting more complex according to their ability and opportunity. It will work itself out differently for an ant than an ordinary person, as it will between that person and another who had different opportunities. The person who is rich will be guided by the same instincts as the very poor person, but the first will be concerned with other things than just finding enough food to eat each day, or making sure they don't freeze to death for lack of proper clothing.
Those are the most basic and fundamental instincts within the humans, and here is the link with them and the teachings of Jesus. His most basic teaching is this: the instincts within the humans drive them toward all sorts of things that are totally askew according to God, because He is good and they are evil. What the humans find valuable is determined only by those instincts within them to survive, and therefore they ascribe value to the things and people that help them do that, based on how their instincts lead/guide them.
To those he was sent to teach and reveal the Father to, he said things like: Whatever the humans think is valuable is determined by that which is in them (instincts). However, what the humans think is valuable is actually detestable to God. So if you want to find your Father, you have to become a creature who is not guided by those basic fundamental things that all the humans are guided by. To the humans, those instincts are a friend which helps them survive and advance their own interests; to God's sons they are the enemy which can only serve to lead and keep them away from a knowledge of their Father. It was the real Jesus' "satan" of the temptation account, what he thought about in his mind, knowing certain things about himself that others didn't know (that he was the One everyone was waiting for, but the Father wanted him to go another way than the animal wanted him to go).
Jesus told those who wanted to follow him, "You have to become a creature who doesn't find any inherent value in money, as the humans naturally do. You have to become one who isn't concerned about where they're going to get more food, or if they're going to freeze to death or not. You have to become what you cannot become, what is impossible for you to become, because it means the removal of those instincts that define you as unclean animals, like all the other humans who haven't been chosen by the Father to become sons. You have to be creatures who aren't driven by the animal instincts."
"You will have to become so fundamentally changed—even at that most basic and level of being driven by the instincts inside you—that you don't act like the other humans at all in respect to all these things that the humans run after because they think they're valuable things e.g., food, clothing, money, family, respect and honor from the other humans." That's what he told them it took to be transformed, which was the only way to find their Father who had chosen them to find Him and be part of His house, His family of sons whom He can actually enjoy.
Respect and honor is the egotistical component of the animal instincts, what he illustrates to the disciples in how the Pharisees act so they can feel better, righter, more righteous and accepted by God within their own perspective than the others. Being respected and honored by other humans is obviously something the humans consider valuable, and the desire to get it is built right in to the instincts that control them. It's like candy for a kid; there is an underlying sense of euphoria that comes with being accepted, being loved and respected, being the showpiece and admired by everyone.
Everything Jesus taught them ran contrary to what and how the humans naturally are because of those natural instincts, even to the point of what he was willing to become. Not respected and honored for being the great prophet and Messiah of God, which would have been the ultimate euphoric power trip in Israel to become in the eyes of the humans (the details of the temptation are exactly about this); but a shameful failure whose life came to nothing but another shriveled up attempt to be what so many other scoundrels were—an identity based on his own delusions about what he was—another false messiah. The king of Israel? How could the king of Israel's momentum amongst the humans fizzle out and come to nothing, as his did.
Everything about Jesus according to the humans was misguided before he existed, when he existed in his earthly body, when he, as the eternal spirit One with God inhabited the bodies of the sons chosen by God, and since that time, up to now. Because the humans are all guided by those instincts that are evil, which define the humans as merely unclean animals, totally un special to God, unworthy and undeserving of anything but the fate of the ant, dog, rat, or blade of grass, they can never know the truth about the spiritual reality. The very thing that makes them think they're so special, is the thing that makes them truly un special to God, because it makes them like everything else in the natural creation.
It only seems paradoxical if you're given over to the mind set that God loves every natural thing the same, and that He wants everyone to be with Him where He is. That is the mind set of the christians, who are the descendants of those who created and put into place the abomination and subversion of what was true for Jesus and the disciples (and a handful of other sons in the first century), with their own made up version of the jesus god. Although they think they're so different than their mother (the Church of Rome), in actuality everything important they "believe" is based on what was made up by men when they took the truth of the new covenant into captivity in the second, third and fourth centuries.
As long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.