1 Chronicles 20-21 / Ezekiel 31 / Ephesians 1-2
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
There is a thing that exists which is common among men and animals, yet impossible to comprehend unless the spirit of sonship has begun to inhabit that one so he begins to see what he must come away from, which is otherwise unapparent and undisclosed. The nature that inhabits the humans makes them so totally given over to self-centeredness and concern for their own situation that they cannot feel anything for God except perhaps the whims of intention sparked by the craving to get something for themselves, which are quickly swept away by their condition of being unable to even search for God, let alone come close to finding Him.
"You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
The reason the animal is cursed is because it cannot see what the sons can see. Its existence is consumed with self-absorption for its own plight, like any wild animal blind to everything but its own need to stay alive and do whatever its instincts tell it to keep doing. Being able to see God and what He requires is only the beginning; being willing to conform to those requirements is what makes the sons good according to God. The reason the Son of God is good is because when he was in his human body, he was willing to be given over to being conformed to God's image of what a son should look like, and not his own. Now he lives to teach the sons how to become transformed so that they look like sons instead of animals driven by the ruler of this world, the animal instinctual nature that inhabits the humans to keep them perfectly in their place (it's perfect because are unaware of the condition that keeps them under that seamless membrane which keeps them separated from the living God).
That is the plight of the animal, and I say it from experience as I notice all through the day that I am preoccupied with what I need to do for me and my dilemma of existence—take care of my self and do whatever I can to advance my own cause. It's not something I can easily even think about because it's just such an integral part of how I operate, without even thinking about what I'm doing. That's just it, there is no thinking to it because it's all just instinct that comes from another place than where thinking comes from. Thinking and planning may be linked to it, but only in a strategic type of association. The motivation that dictates the general need is the other, ubiquitous thing in me that is always just there, prompting me toward that less tangible, ever-present craving/impulse to get, take, plan do whatever gets me what I think I might need to continue to survive in many different ways. Coming from animal stock, it is my inherent nature to do and be that; so I a mere human cannot automatically "see and hear, then turn and become healed," because that ability is reserved for those who are given what it takes to do it, then who respond with the answer which makes the Father abundantly happy.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
He said, "Go and tell this people: " `Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
The son learns to become ready to do the Father's will, to make Him happy instead of being preoccupied with his own dilemma all the time (because of being driven by instinct without even knowing or perceiving). The son hears and understands; he sees and perceives what the Father wants him to know. His heart is soft so that the Father can come in to it and him in the place that is below the level of perceiving, seeing and knowing—the same place where the instincts live in the animals—so that He and the Son can live there inside him, as the Father lived inside the Son, and as the Son promised the 11 men who stood loyal to him to the end.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
The purpose of God's will is that He wants those He has chosen to become healed of their plight of being a mere animal driven by instinct, so they can recognize Him as their true Father and come close to Him, to get to know Him. The process of becoming healed is long and complex, with safeguards along the way (the nature with which the humans are cursed) to assure that one isn't allowed to enter into the kingdom of the sons of God without belonging there. The transformation of a human from non-existent toward before becoming mature (fully dead to God) is the copy of the one who is chosen by God to be transformed from an unclean animal (fully dead to God) to one of His sons who is fully alive to Him.
It's not easy or instantaneous, nor does it involve ways and strategies that the humans have perfected, or would be able to adhere to. The process is heinous and appalling to the animal because it involves doing exactly the opposite to what the animal nature lives to do—that is, survive in the best way possible, in many different ways (not just physically).
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
The son becomes transformed from a creature who before is preoccupied with how to survive better to one whose ambition, hope and all his dreams get wrapped up into the desire to hear his Father say to him, "Well done, my faithful and loyal son. You heard me and responded, and gave your life to my cause while abandoning your own. You put aside remaining obsessed with your own welfare and became obsessed with how you might help my sheep by guiding them to me. To me you look like my firstborn Son."
"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.
The life the sons choose runs opposite to what the humans choose. In the same way, the great promised by Moses, the Messiah and Son of David was and looked very different to the Father than he did to the humans (he wasn't there to serve them so he looked and acted like something very appalling to their sense of acceptability). Jesus' identity before God was always questioned by the humans, who couldn't believe he was who he said he was, because he didn't look right according to them.
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.
Then John gave this testimony: "I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Some scholars contend that Jesus was so totally given over to God because he possessed a kind of religious genius, in the same way that there are musical geniuses, artistic geniuses, mathematical geniuses, etc. They would say that he was extraordinarily inspired by a unique personal experience, and would lump him together with others who have founded the world's religions. The abominators say it's because he was a god before he came, which does explain how he could have been so unlike all other men. However, it also takes away from everything he actually did on the Father's behalf, for His sake, and reduces his suffering and work to a token necessity and a non-event because a god would have had an easy time of being obedient to himself. With this view of him, his life just becomes a sham, which is what all the religions of the world who follow the man-made jesus god become reduced to. The majority of people who say they are "christians" believe this lie, which is astounding.
We know that Jesus was so completely given over to the Father because He was living in the Son's body. God the spirit taught him the way to be; not any man but God Himself living in Jesus' body made him the way he was. We know that God came to Mary and created him inside of her with His DNA instead of Joseph's, so he was the firstborn Son of God (the process that must happen later in all the rest of the sons, according to his talk with Nicodemus).
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
He was the first man to actually be born of God, of the spirit, called the "Firstborn among many brothers," the implication being that others would be born of God also, after his likeness. These others would become more similar to Jesus as they became less like the animal they were being pulled away from; changed from pure animal to son of the living God. That was what the new covenant was about.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
After the time the Lord said, "It is finished," his work of believing the Father was done. After he went to become One with the Father, the spirit could inhabit an unclean animal—live in his body—where before only the animal lived; but only if the man was chosen to become a son of God. If the intention existed in God's mind to make one a son in His family, then the spirit could live in him, even though he was still unclean, yet to become transformed, by the buffering process that the presence of the Son as part of the Father's body provided (because the Son would be able to effectively teach the intended sons how to become good sons who are pleasing to the Father—to act like sons instead of animals).
This bears out the reason why the sons must understand the animal nature and how it works not just in the other animals (the easy part), but in themselves which is hard because they instinctively (ironically too) want to hide from being found out, according to the same nature's dictates they are needing to become aware of . The long and short of the process is the son who is listening to the voice of the firstborn Son, learning to ignore (not be led by) to voice of the animal, which exists as the instincts within him that automatically well up to perform their intended purpose—what God designed it to do—keep defining him as an animal driven by instinct which cannot come near Him.
Before Jesus, there was always the "dividing wall of hostility" between God and the men He chose to love, because He couldn't actually live in them. That was a process which looked more like the spirit coming over them, or being in them for a period of time, but not permanently because when they went into the ground He had to abandon them there. Jesus was the first man whom the Father inhabited, the first son who had that level of fellowship with the Father in his heart, via the spirit (which was just God who exists in that unseen form—spirit not flesh and blood). The reason He could live in Jesus' body is because Jesus was kept clean from the uncleanness of the animal nature, therefore being and remaining "sinless," which means to say perfect like God is perfect, not blemished as the humans are.
That is not to say he wasn't able to be tempted, nor just as apt to fall by his choice to follow it instead of the Father. What it does say is that he was different than the other sons, because of the gravity of the work and the extreme importance of what he was called to do—what we couldn't ever do. To say that he was exactly and in every way just like the rest of us reduces the gravity of what he did to the same level of what we're being called to do. Yes, it is the same process, but not anywhere near the same level of importance and difficulty, which is why he is and remains not just another stone in the Father's house, but the Cornerstone, upon which every other stone is cut and fashioned so it fits into the rest of the building. Being called the firstborn Son denotes the process that all of the sons must be baptized into, but they do not have to do the work that the firstborn Son did to save the family and present it to the Father. What we (the rest of the family) do is mimic him by our little part (huge to the Father) of adopting the same process into our selves, of saving the family by giving up our lives to become obsessed with taking on each other of those we know to be our true brothers' burdens as though they were our own—another definition of what the Son accomplished for the Father. We all become like little shepherds who copy the firstborn Son, and that makes the Father happy and pleased with us, because we act and look like—all the way in to the deep parts of our secret places—the firstborn Son of God, doing the Father's will.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.
Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
We know that that is the reason he could separate himself from the animal and not be bound to it as all men are, led, guided by it as it desired to lead him and define him as a mere animal. We also know that that is the only hope for us, too, if we want to separate ourselves from the animal nature which rules the world filled with the ruling class of animals, what wants to continue to rule us. As of yet, we still see the animal nature in us, which effectively leads us to do its will, rather than the Father's will. So we have to keep asking for the gift of being able to become separated from the animal nature by first being able to see and perceive it and how it works. We have to keep walking forward in the path already established for us, what we know inside us because of the teaching we've already received, that which leads to the Father.
It's not a deal where we can keep our old life and still follow God, as much as Jesus could not do the work of his Father and also be spared from the cup of suffering. If we want to know our Father, then first we have to be born of Him, of the spirit (not the "holy spirit god," as created by the christians, which is mythical). Secondly, we will have to live by the spirit and die to the animal nature by denying it power to live in our heart and keep defining us as animals who follow its voice. We have to lose our life as the animal, to gain our life as a son. Nothing we could ever attain to in these bodies of death could compare to that life of God in us (it isn't worth continuing to follow).
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the spirit of sonship.