Ephesians 4:18 – Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
1 Thessalonians 4:5 – Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
Matthew 4:16 – The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
Hello all, new blog today. I had a thought while reading through John 1. It is amazing how alienated we can be or are from God. Reading the Bible can make so little sense sometimes, but when God turns the lights on it’s so obvious, when he opens our spiritual eyes and ears to truth, to what he’s saying. It’s amazing how estranged humanity is from God, even though he is our Creator, even though he is so near, yet he is so far… as the Bible says in Isaiah 59:2 – But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. This world and it’s kingdom, including the ruler of this world, well, it’s a kingdom of darkness, a kingdom not of God. It’s one of the reasons we must be born again, because being born again is a kingdom change… even while physically we remain here, spiritually we are translated into a new kingdom… it’s a work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot do it.
We start out as aliens to God, alienated, we all are in the same spot, but don’t have to remain there, God has given us so much ability to be drawn to him, it’s not his fault, but yet our fault, because we want to keep that which alienates us from God, such as our pride and lust. We are so alienated from the word of God, it ministers death to our soul, we are so alienated the Bible just makes no sense, there is no relevance to our hardened, blinded hearts. Even as a Christian it’s so easy to backslide on God, to drift away, to dull our ears to his voice, to go whoring after this, that or the other. It’s so easy for all of us to go cold on God. The problem lies not with God, but the problem lies with us, when I read the Bible and I’m cold on God, things just don’t make sense, when pride is in the way or whatever the issue is, we are aliens or become aliens through our fallenness, our lostness, our sin, our darkness. Just like with Elisha in 2 Kings 2, our heart can be cursed, poisoned waters… even while the land is pleasant and things are going ok on the surface as it was in this story… but the water’s no good. Elisha cast salt into those cursed, useless waters, and they were healed, and so we need to get to the cross of Jesus Christ afresh and get back on track with God. But on with the blog…
Mankind in his natural, unregenerate state is so utterly blinded by the devil, in so great a darkness, yet not realizing it. We can read the Bible and not understand it, and by not understand it, as in just “getting it”. Like not even getting why things are the way they are, why things had to be done this way or that way. What makes the cross relevant, why is forgiveness needed, what is truth? And in being alienated from the life of Christ, we are alienated not just from God, but the things of God, who he is, how he works, what he’s teaching… it’s all complete gobbledygook to our fleshly mind and understanding. Jesus said unless we are born again we cannot SEE or ENTER the kingdom of God. Tell an unsaved person about the blood of Jesus Christ and they’re like… cool… and? It’s foolishness to them, and it’s offensive, because at the spiritual level it’s a completely different kingdom… and the kingdom of this world and God’s kingdom do not mix, they are separate. It’s just so apparent how much the nations grew apart from God. If you go way back to after the flood at Babel, well they got dispersed by God in unbelief, and they grew further and further from God. Even nations that had a godly origin, such as later for instance with Lot who had two children Moab and Ammon, as these nations bob up later in the Bible, they are wicked, godless nations. Lot started out a friend of Abraham, yet would have descendants mortal enemies of Abraham’s descendants, serving a totally different “god”.
In fact none of the nations sought God. What a picture of humanity… no wonder the Bible says in Romans 3:11 – There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Mankind had fallen, rebelled, grown further from God, a gulf so great, a problem so huge… but God would begin to draw men to himself, and part of this was God making a nation through whom he would reveal himself and his ways and identity to, who then could tell others and influence the world. God made himself a nation of a man called Abraham. Israel came through Abraham (Abraham had a son, Isaac, who had a son Jacob, from whom came 12 sons comprising the 12 tribes of Israel). And to this nation God revealed himself… but all the other nations were in darkness. It doesn’t mean people couldn’t get saved because they did… in fact in many cases the Gentiles were showing the Jews up in simple faith and valuing what the Jews simply did not. People in these nations like Rahab would latch onto morsels of truth, they even in the sinful nations would search and seek God out, and God knows who’s calling him, and how to reach someone who wants the truth… leave that to him. But even as Jesus said in Luke 4… there were many widows in Israel during the famine, but to none of them was Elijah sent, save a widow in Zarephath… Gentile territory. Even without the revelation of God in the way he revealed himself to Israel, people from every nation under heaven had the witness of conscience, of nature (read Psalm 19), of God putting the knowledge of himself in every human being that has ever been born. After all, it doesn’t matter if you are a native in the Amazon or born in England… we all came from Jesus Christ, you were created by him… without him was nothing made that was made. It’s why Nebuchadnezzar recognized the Son of God walking with the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace… he knew the Lord, his Creator, when he saw him… as will everyone when the bow the knee to him at the end of time.
I never understood the enmity of the ordinances mentioned in Ephesians 2. Why was there a division between the Jew and the Gentile? But it’s so clear. God revealed himself to Israel, the Bible says to them were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:1). God told Abraham he was blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12). Israel was meant to influence the other nations, they were meant to be God’s people, they were meant to be the head of the nations (not the tail as they so often became) and through their witness and light in this world, people would look on and realize that their God was the true God, and that his ways and means were so much better than their darkness (Deuteronomy 4:6). They were meant to be a light, a blessing, but instead they would always leave God and fall into sin and wickedness. But they thought themselves pretty good. When Jesus came, he found a nation very, very proud in its law, its ordinances, a nation that through these things, through “obeying” and “keeping” them, they felt so much better than the scummy Gentiles who didn’t know better, who weren’t worthy of the priceless pearls that they had which the others weren’t worthy of. God’s nation was very exclusive, you had to become a Jew to get in on it, if you were born into a Gentile, you were born without all the promises that God had made to Israel. But God’s plan was to enter his creation, born a Jew, and through his life, to bring all the people of the earth to those promises and blessing and life through him. You don’t have to go to Jerusalem, you don’t have to become a Jew, you don’t have to keep all the laws and ordinances. God designed it always to be by the hearing of faith, which any person can do. To be born an Israelite was never enough, they must believe as must we. It’s no longer Gentiles on the outside looking in, read Ephesians 2. The criteria is not birth, but placing your faith in the one person who has obtained all things for us, Jesus Christ.
God gave Israel the law and ordinances, but instead of them making Israel repentant and close to God, and in turn positively impact others… not to mention just in fact actually helping them know God for themselves… well they didn’t achieve that. In fact they became a means of separation between Jews and the rest of the world, a proudful distinction. Jews felt elite, they felt better, even though it was God’s grace upon them, nothing they had done to deserve it all, in fact they were sinners just as much as the Gentiles, and if not more so, because they had more opportunity and light, they had greater responsibility and accountability. The Jews would feel better than the Gentile dogs who didn’t know better. They didn’t realize that they were blessed by being born in a nation which had such a witness of God, with such great privilege and responsibility. They missed that the blessings and future were wrapped up in one man, Jesus Christ, not in anything they had or ever would do, and that Jesus Christ would extend those blessings and future to anyone who would believe on him, Jew or Gentile alike. The Bible says in Ephesians the law and the ordinances were a picture of Christ and fulfilled in Christ, so in one person the wall of separation was broken away. It was Jesus who fulfilled the law, who was the fulfillment and substance of those earthly ordinance… and because he did them, kept them, they’re done away with in the person of him, and realized in him for all of us. It no longer lays in those things, but in coming to a person… a person who alone pleased God, who alone has life and life to give. All may come, anyone can be saved Jew or Gentile alike. In Christ there are no such distinctions anymore.
I have digressed a little bit, but this all ties in with the thought of the ignorance and hopelessness and lostness of the Gentiles, historically to now. Most people on the planet are not in fact Jews, we can grow up in godly or ungodly or indifferent homes, but in any of them, we just are so estranged from God. Sometimes we need someone to open the Bible to us, as the Ethiopian eunuch needed, and which Phillip did. While the Jews had the light, the rest of the nations lay in darkness. They received no law, they came to no Horeb, they had no prophets, their nation was in fact under judgement. And the Bible says in times past God winked at their ignorance. God is the perfect, true, righteous Judge, that’s why sometimes we just should worry about our own business and stop looking at others as we so easily do which in the end is just to justify ourselves. God knows everything, God knows how to judge, and judge perfectly. Jesus said to whom much is given, much is required. The Jews were given much, and thus required of much. Many people living in the other nations just didn’t know that much. They knew enough to be responsible to God, but they were also in ignorance. The nations grew further and further from God, and godless parents raised ungodly children, who raised even more ungodly children. Look at Cain’s lineage, it got worse and worse. The sin deepened, they slumped deeper in the mire. If sin is not identified and dealt with and got right with God with, if curses are not done away with in Christ Jesus, they follow and visit generation after generation. We often think of the “poor” nations whom God ordered to be destroyed out of the promised land, but we miss the fact these were ungodly nations, doing abominable ungodly things, so corrupted that there was to be nothing spared. Nothing could be salvaged, they were such a corrupt seed of people… look at the nations and the people of them, they often always had the same traits. The Amalekites were always bad people in the Bible for instance. When the angels came to Sodom before the flood to rescue Lot, it was men of all ages, down to young boys, who were pressing in in blind fleshly lust. It’s a miracle that God found a way through the hard, wicked heart of man, his grace is a constant miracle. And yet despite all this … in all the nations, God has his own, and knows his own. God sees the one in the mass.
But the net result of history is that you have people over the world who just don’t know. In many cases it can be willful ignorance, they choose to be ignorant. But many just don’t know. This is not about making excuses… but people choose not to know, by their own nature and sin they go further and further from God. The things of God become so alien to them. Even Christians can become so strange to the voice of the Shepherd, Christians who know not the shepherd’s voice, but instead hear and follow strangers, which is probably a sign they’re not actually saved, despite being “Christian”. Jesus said my sheep hear my voice. They don’t know anything at all. God has put the knowledge of himself in every human being, so there are no excuses for anyone, the Bible says the gospel has been preached to every creature under heaven, that creation bares witness, that conscience bears witness, that Jesus is the firstborn of every creature… him being the Creator and origin of every living thing that has ever had breath. So it’s not about excuses. But its just humbling and amazing being introduced to the things of God for the first time. The eyes of understanding being opened (Ephesians 1:18), coming to God and partaking of his grace. God has made provision for these godless nations and godless seed to get saved and to come to him. The way is open… the departure of Adam and Eve from God in Eden is reversed in the person of Jesus Christ. There is just no excuse now, because although God winked at the past ignorance, he commandeth men everywhere now to repent. That time is over, the gospel has gone through the whole world, no wonder Hebrews says see that you refuse not him that speaketh from heaven. Way back to Genesis, the table of nations, the separation of all the nations, all these nations went off and made their own ways, had their own religion, they rejected God and they all grew in that. But God is drawing you and I to one person, Jesus Christ. A human history steeped in rebellion and darkness does not have to define your future.
The Bible says we were by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and that we are the children of the night. But then the grace and the kindness of God appeared (Titus 2:11,3:4). When Jesus came, the Bible said the children that sat in darkness have seen great light. The Bible says, Arise, shine, for thy light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee (Isaiah 60:1). The Bible says the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1). Jesus Christ is accessible to every human being that has walked this planet. He is God, he became involved in his own creation as God in the flesh, walking, talking, sharing our woes and pain, being tempted as we are… yet without sin. If we believe on him, we have seen the light, we have come to the light. Rather than fleeing from it. But most people flee from it (John 3). That’s the problem. Its not that light has not come to you, but its because you flee from the light. As Jesus said in John 3, because your deeds are evil, you flee from the light… you don’t want the rebuke, you don’t want the light shone on your evil deeds and hard dark heart. And hence you remain a child of the darkness. You take delusion, you choose ignorance, you know not God, you don’t want him or his ways or anything of him and his kingdom.
We don’t truly understand just how far fallen we are, just how alienated we are. Just how estranged that sin in Eden left us, just how far we’ve come, or rather gone. Its why Jesus said ye must be born again. Our sinful nature is so fallen, so unsaveable, so unsalvagable, so far gone, you just need to be made a new creature. Not religion, not doing better, not training yourself, not taming your flesh or channeling it’s behavior in a constructive way… you need to be a fundamentally new person. You can only be made truly new, truly alive in Christ Jesus. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… the Bible says in John 1. And we in our first nature could not comprehend him, we can’t comprehend the light. We not only live in darkness, we are comfortable there, we want to stay there. Look at Samson, he was the deliverer of Israel, but his own nation betrayed him to the Philistines saying… know ye not that the Philistines are rulers over us? They had grown in acceptance and even liked the Philistine dominion. Maybe you are already resigned to your lot in life. Just like Israel was resigned to the yoke of Pharaoh in Egypt, over the promises of God in deliverance.
Who God is, his ways, his means, his identity, they all are a mystery to an unbeliever. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 4:3,4 – But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. Satan wants to blind you to the light. This world is anti light, you were born into this world, born in sin… you are in darkness, we all are or were… in the slave market of sin. But Jesus bought mankind’s deliverance, he is the Redeemer of humanity, he is not a false light, he is the true Light, the bright and morning star… and morning star that can arise in your heart today and give light to you, and put a light in your eyes that will never go out. Satan doesn’t want that, he want’s you numbed beyond feeling, blind beyond seeing, lost and in darkness. Hence he is a thief, a murderer, a robber, because he’s going to and does steal everything from you, your life, your future, your joy, your soul. They’re not his to take, hence he steals them, but he’s a strong man, but Jesus is stronger, and in fact the strongest… you need to come to true Light today, the light of the world. You don’t have to be a alien to God, an alien to truth, an alien to the covenants of promise, an alien to Jesus Christ, you can be a citizen of the household of God, you can have the light of life. You can “get it”, get in his kingdom, the kingdom of light today.
John 8:12 – Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Colossians 1:20 – And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Colossians 1:21 – And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Colossians 1:22 – In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Colossians 1:23 – If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;