IN THE WORDS OF JESUS–Part 1644

ON LOVE; PART MCCLXXXIII

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GoodWill IS Love in Action

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FIRST IS THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

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WHAT THEN IS LOVE? In a general sense love is benevolence, good will; that disposition of heart which inclines men to think favorably of their fellow men, and to do them good. In a theological sense, it includes supreme love to God, and universal good will to men. While this IS from an older definition of Charity, which IS rendered in the King James Bible from the same Greek word agape which IS generally rendered as Love, we should amend our own definition here to include the idea that in the reality of Love a man will accord to ALL men ALL things that he would accord to himself and to say that Love IS our thoughts and attitude of the equality of ALL men regardless of their outward nature or appearance…that ALL ARE equally children of Our One God

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PLUS THE EVER IMPORTANT AND HIGH IDEAL TAUGHT TO US BY THE CHRIST: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).

We ended the last essay with some thoughts on the choice that IS ever before men, a choice of God over mammon as the focus of one’s Life. We should try to see here how that it IS this choice that IS denied to most Christians by their own doctrinal approach to the Lord as most ALL doctrines fail to capture the Truth of Jesus’ words against their own views of salvation; views that ARE based in the doctrinal ideas of affirmation and confession as these ARE promulgated by their founders as well as those that ARE based in the rites, rituals and sacraments of early church origin.

It IS this choice that must be made by everyman who Truly seeks God and in this we should understand that it IS the totality of mammon that IS at issue and NOT merely the idea of money and treasure as IS presumed by many church teachers. We should understand as well that even in the view that mammon IS concerned with the riches of the world, most ALL Christian teachings DO NOT show one’s fixation on this as error….most teach that the Lord wants the Christian to be abundantly supplied in his worldly Life.

Mammon IS for us the totality of worldly focus and so long as the man in this world seeks and desires what the world can offer, his choice IS mammon and NOT God. And this choice IS far reaching; it includes ALL such things as the Master shows us in regard to being His disciple and in being worthy of Him. Jesus tells us “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27, 33).

Can we see the point here? Can we see how that the idea of forsaking ALL agrees with His words regarding such saying “every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:29). And can we see how that this agrees also with the Apostle James’ words saying :

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:1-4).

As we discussed in the last essay, these ideas on the relationship between the world and God ARE an expansion of the Master’s own words on God and mammon; Jesus tells us that it IS NOT possible to serve both while James shows us the reality of serving the world of mammon, how that this IS against God. There IS a simple logic here that IS missed by most of the Christian world; most ALL have accepted and believed the ideas of doctrines regarding their relationship with the Lord and in ideas such as James’ here we can easily see the doctrinal distortion that IS applied.

For example John Gill tells us that it IS: an immoderate love for the good things of the world, and a prevailing desire after the evil things of it, and a delight in the company and conversation of the men of the world, and a conformity to, and compliance with, the sinful manners and customs of the world 8 that constitutes James’ idea of friendship before he goes on to show the relationship of the apostle’s words to Jesus’ words on God and mammon. This doctrinal distortion takes away from the reality that ALL who live in this world and focus upon their lives here ARE equally friends of the world and this regardless of the religious motivation. Only those whose focus IS Truly upon the Lord ARE freed from this….they have chosen the Truth.

In these words it IS easy to see and to understand the doctrinal fixation with the impossibility of keeping His words but this view IS flawed and should be seen through Jesus’ words saying “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). These words from the Master ARE spoken in regard to the rich man who could NOT bring himself to “go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:26, 21); IS this NOT the reality of forsaking ALL and placing one’s focus upon the Lord?

The Truth of these ideas of forsaking and the singularity of one’s focus upon the things of God runs contrary to the ideas that men have about their lives here in this world; ideas regarding comfort and pleasure and possessions and here we should NOT leave out relationships. It IS these very things that Jesus tells us must be forsaken but this has been distorted by doctrines into ideas as we see from Mr. Gill above, ideas of an immoderate attraction to these purely carnal things and ideas. We see similar erosion of the Truth in Mr. Gill’s treatment of the choice given to the rich man, that he be perfect or that he keep his worldly ways. He says: not that either the law of God, or Gospel of Christ, require this to be done of all men, and at all times; for though it is a duty binding upon all, and always, to relieve the poor and the needy, yet a man is not obliged to give all that he has to them; see ( 2 Corinthians 8:11 ) nor does either legal or Christian perfection lie in doing this 8.

We should try to see how that Mr. Gills ideas ARE contrary to the Master’s instructions and while he may be right in saying that there IS NO law or commandment that one DO so, the reality of the result IS plainly evident. In this doctrinal approach we have again men teaching men that they CAN DO both while the Master clearly tells us that “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). These same doctrinal teachings have erected for themselves barriers to the Master’s words and instructions for True salvation as they rely upon ideas that show it IS ONLY an
immoderate love for such worldly things that makes one to be a “friend of the world “. This IS however a carnal idea and here we should look at the idea behind this word that IS used as friend. Strong’s tells us that this world phila IS: from G5384; fondness 9a and in this we should see the better idea.

This word phila IS used ONLY here in the New Testament and IS while it IS generally rendered as friendship, some render in terms of Love which IS much closer to the idea of fondness. James also uses the Greek word philos in this same context and while this word IS always rendered as friend, we should try to see the deeper ideas. Thayer’s tells us that in the context of this verse the meaning should be: one who finds his pleasure in a thing 9 which reveals more that the word friend DOES; Strong’s tells us that philos IS:
properly, dear 9a. Our point here IS that despite the relationship in ideas between friend and enemy which IS constructed in this verse, the greater reality IS found in one’s attitude toward the things of the world; it IS one’s fondness and his finding pleasure that distracts one from seeking the Truth and here we should try to see the apostle’s next more obscure statement.

James next words ARE rendered as two questions by some and as a single idea by the King James translators. The apostle says “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (James 4:5). There ARE many opinions regarding the first part’s reference to scripture with NO consensus on the source and here we should perhaps see this as DOES Mr. Gill who tells us that: his meaning is, the sense of the Scripture everywhere, where it speaks of this matter 8. We should understand here that with NO direct scripture reference it IS possible that these two questions ARE unrelated….that the first question IS in regard to the previous verses were James tells us of the dichotomy between one’s focus on the world versus one’s focus upon the things of God while the second question leads us into the the next verses.

The greater point here IS however found in the idea of the spirit and if we can see that while Paul tells his readers that “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12), he IS speaking plainly to those who DO have “the spirit which is of God” through their focus upon the things of God, James’ words ARE much more general and ARE addressed to men who may yet be struggling with their understanding of Jesus’ ideas of God and mammon. Their approach IS markedly different but their reality IS quite the same; James IS blunt and direct throughout his epistle while Paul seems to address ONLY those whom he believes have risen to his own level of ‘faith‘. Can we see this idea in comparing the writings of these two disciples of the Lord?

Their different approaches ARE most clearly seen in their views on faith and works which, when analyzed against a fuller concept of the Law versus the law, can be easily reconciled. Paul, as a Pharisee speaks of the law’s acceptance by the Jews and their leaders over the previous 1500 years, he speaks against those parts of the whole that deal with Moses ancillary additions which ARE intended to both control a barbarous and superstitious population and to assuage their eventual wrongdoing through the presumed atonement offered in their rites, their rituals and their sacrifices. Paul speaks against the same practices of the law as DOES Jesus and NOT against those parts of the law which govern the relationships between man and man and between man and God. Paul speaks against the Jews’ use of their developed mitzvah, their 613 ‘commandments’ which emphasize the carnal and leave bare the Truly spiritual ideas of the Ten Commandments and ALL else offered by Moses that supports those commandments.

James view of the idea of works IS much different; James sees works as the result of faith which he approaches in terms of KNOWING and NOT the nebulous ideas of doctrines. For James the idea of works IS akin to Jesus ideas from the third part of our trifecta, ideas that begin with Jesus saying from earlier in His dialogue saying “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15); it IS this idea that leads into the Master’s words about the Holy Spirit and the involvement of the Spirit in the Lives of those who DO Love Him. Can we see how that the idea for men to “keep my commandments” IS those works that a man who has True faith, True KNOWING, will DO. In James examples of both Abraham and Rahab we should try to see how that they KNOW God and how that their DOING, their works, ARE the result of that KNOWING. It is this KNOWING that IS “imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23).

While there IS much more to both these stories than the tidbits of information that we get from scripture, the example IS there for us to see if we can look at them apart from the doctrinal ideas; if we can see these as examples of the way that KNOWING God brings realization of Truth and how that both Abraham and Rahab DID see past the carnal implications, we can then understand the idea of works as James’ paints this for us. Abraham was before the law and Rahab, being a Canaanite, DOES NOT KNOW the law and for each their KNOWING IS based in their own spiritual collateral which IS awakened in their lives. We should, through our own spiritual collateral, try to see past the doctrinal teaching of men to understand how that James and Paul ARE NOT speaking of the same idea of works; James IS speaking of the results of KNOWING God while Paul IS speaking of the Jews practices of rites and rituals and sacrifices while leaving the results of KNOWING God to another concept that IS sorely misunderstood….grace.

This brings us back to James obscure saying that “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy“. Aside from the way that this IS posed by some translators as two questions and by others as a single question, there IS a vast disparity in the way that James’ words ARE interpreted. Some examples of this ARE:

  • King James Translation says “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
  • Youngs Literal says “Do ye think that emptily the Writing saith, `To envy earnestly desireth the spirit that did dwell in us‘”

Both of these can be seen in regard to John Gills commentary that tells us: that is, the depraved spirit of man, the spirit of an unregenerate man; that as it is prone to every lust, and prompts to every sin, the imagination of the thought of man’s heart being evil, and that continually, so it instigates to envy the happiness of others 8. This would equate then to Paul’s idea of “the spirit of the world” which IS the carnal man’s personality at work without the prompting of the Soul….the man whose focus IS upon the things of the world and NOT the things of God. We should remember that this IS most ALL men from the doctrinally religious to the ‘heathen’; neither ARE living in accord with the Master’s words and His Great Commandments.

There IS then another side to the interpretations of James’ words which, while they agree that the subject IS the Spirit, approach this in different ways:

  1. The Revised Standard says “Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us’?
  2. The New American Standard frames this saying ‘Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?
  3. The God’s Word Translation says “Do you think this passage means nothing? It says, ‘The Spirit that lives in us wants us to be his own‘”.
  4. The Darby Translation says “Think ye that the scripture speaks in vain? Does the Spirit which has taken his abode in us desire enviously?“.
  5. The New Living Translation renders this as “Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him“.

While these DO approach the idea as that the subject IS the Spirit and NOT the spirit, they DO so from different perspectives. The first two and in a way the third share the idea that it IS God who desires our Spirit and from the perspective that the True man IS Spirt and IS ever One with God, this DOES NOT work. This IS True also of the fifth idea as the True man as Spirit IS ever “faithful to him“. The forth in our list, the Darby Translation, approaches this in the form of two questions and in regard to this John Gill tells us: this may be put as a distinct question from the other, “does the spirit that dwelleth in us lust to envy?” that is, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the hearts of his people, as in his temple: the Ethiopic version reads, “the Holy Spirit”: and then the sense is, does he lust to envy? no; he lusts against the flesh and the works of it, and envy among the rest 8.

Perhaps James intended a dual meaning here; the first, as “the spirit of the world“, corresponds to his previous words on the necessary dichotomy between the world and God while the second leads us into the next idea by saying NO, “the spirit that dwelleth in us” DOES NOT “lust to envy ” and that “he giveth more grace” (James 4:6). This idea of envy IS NOT the same word that IS used earlier by James and rendered into the idea of “bitter envying and strife” (James 3:14); the idea here IS envy as ill-will 9a as we read in Strong’s. If we look at this idea as envy and ill-will against the apostle’s words on the proud and the humble, the whole of his idea can become clearer. Starting with the dichotomy between the world and God, between the things of the world and the things of God, we can see the developing instruction that men should NOT concentrate on the former but on the latter and this should be tied as well to James’ comments on men’s desires and what has become the idea of prayer as men ask for the things of the world; it IS here that “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts“.

It IS in this that we should see the idea of ill-will in the asking and perhaps envy in the way that we want what others have. And it IS in this context that the apostle asks DOES “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” here alluding to the idea that if one’s focus IS NOT upon the world, that the answer IS clearly NO. We should try to see that the idea of being proud IS also tied to this idea of envy and clearly to the vanity in which most ALL men live. In his words saying “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6) we have the ready answer for the man whose focus IS NOT upon his friend….the world, and this answer IS the central idea of this segment of the apostle’s writing.

The Greek word hyperēphanos that IS rendered here as proud IS more than that idea of pride that we have in our accomplishments or in the accomplishments of our ‘loved’ ones. This sense of pride IS an active Life choice that connects men to the world in which they live. Strong’s tells us that the idea here IS to be: appearing above others 9a while Thayer’s tells us that we should see: showing oneself above others, overtopping, conspicuous above others, pre-eminent (Plato, Plutarch, others)….especially in a bad sense, “with an overweening estimate of one’s means or merits, despising others or even treating them with contempt, haughty” (cf. Westcott, Epistles of St. John, p. 64{b}) 9 .Can we see the strength of this idea? Vincent’s commentary on this IS from the noun form of the word, hyperēphania; here he says: The picture in the word is that of a man with his head held high above others. It is the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man 4. For this word Strong’s simply says haughtiness and pride 9a. ARE the meanings while Thayer’s tells us that this IS: the characteristic of one who, with a swollen estimate of his own powers or merits, looks down on others and even treats them with insolence and contempt 9.

In ALL of this we should be able to easily understand how that “God resisteth the proud” and how that the misunderstanding of the force of these ideas can allow men to strive with each other for dominance in most every walk of Life and DO so within the confines of their doctrines….so long as there IS NO boasting. James IS showing us the heart of that most basic human attitude which we call glamour. Glamour begins with the self and one’s view of himself as being better than or greater than another and then takes root in most every human endeavor where there ARE factions; the more distinct the factions the greater the glamour and the greater the competitive attitude which generally serves ONLY to divide. We should remember here that James also warns us of factions and divisions which idea IS grossly misunderstood as his words are interpreted into “bitter envying and strife“. It IS against the idea of wisdom versus Wisdom that James shows us how that the Truer interpretation of his words, into emulation and factious divisions, ARE “earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:11, 15).

The ideas here ARE linked together as we read from the end of the third chapter into the beginning of the fourth. If we can understand that the ideas of pride as defined by Strong’s, Thayer’s and Vincent ARE the result of the self-serving attitudes of men which IS the root of their personal and corporate glamour, and that it IS this morphs into the True ideas behind hyperēphanos and hyperēphania, we can then better understand the whole of the apostle’s point and see ourselves reflected in his words….for the better or for the worse. We should try to see here that the better reflection IS one that IS in accord with the Master’s words while the worse IS “earthly, sensual, devilish” and this regardless of any personal ideas that what one believes IS True IS from the Lord. James constructs a test for us, a test of one’s thoughts and attitudes as well as a view of the True source of ALL that enters into one’s thinking and feeling; simply put this IS a test of self, a test where we should understand that if whatsoever thought or attitude enters in IS based in the self and involves any hint of emulation and factious divisions, that “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:15).

The apostle goes on to show us the True Wisdom from above but again the translation and interpretation of his words IS doctrinal and DOES NOT create the picture that the Greek words ARE intended to portray. Wisdom from above, thoughts and attitudes that ARE deemed to be from the Lord, must perforce be “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). In the idea of “first pure ” we should see the primacy of the Greek word men which should be seen in the idea of Truth; Thayer’s tells us that men IS a particle that shows as: truly, certainly, surely, indeed 9 while Strong’s tells us that men IS: a primary particle; properly, indicative of affirmation or concession (in fact); usually followed by a contrasted clause 9aThis word modifies the following word which IS hagnos; this word, while rendered as pure, IS defined by Thayer’s as: exciting reverence, venerable, sacred and then pure, pure from carnality, chaste, modest, and pure from every fault, immaculate 9. Can we see the nature of “the wisdom that is from above” here in this singular idea? It IS against this that many doctrinal Christians believe that their thoughts and attitudes ARE from God and this regardless of how much self IS involved or how carnal such ideas may be.

The idea is almost universally rendered as pure which itself should portray these ideas of Godliness; it IS rendered by one as holy and by two as chaste which IS unfortunately the context that pure IS commonly seen in. Can we see the dysfunction here regarding what comes from God, a dysfunction that can allow men to believe that their thoughts and attitudes ARE that Wisdom so long as they ARE chaste?

As James continues in his writing, he seemingly leaves off this subject and goes into another as he speaks about wars and fighting but if we can see the ideas here of factions and divisions which come in that wisdom that “descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” as the precursor to the wars and fighting along with the lust, the earthly desires of men, we can then see the continuity of his words. It IS this presumed wisdom that consumes the unbeliever and the believer in equal fashion’; it IS these men of presumed wisdom that ARE the adulterers and the friends of the world where their illusion and glamour, their vanity, holds them clueless to the greater realities of Truth and Love. The picture that James paints for us IS one of the same logic as Jesus words on “God and mammon“; there IS ever a choice to be made, a choice to follow in the wisdom and the ways of the world where there IS “bitter envying and strife” which should be understood as emulation and factious divisions. Or to follow in the ways of God, in His Wisdom which reflects in the Life of a man through James words saying that this man IS, through this Wisdom, “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy“. Can we see the point here?

James IS speaking to the baser instincts of men as he points out their failures with an ‘if the shoe fits’ attitude while at the same time he shows the reader how that he can be free from these carnal attributes. He DOES this in his words on how to KNOW “the wisdom that is from above” from that which IS NOT and as we can see above, the ideas of emulation and factious divisions ARE the very same as those ideas that ARE attributed to the Greek words that ARE rendered as proud and pride. It IS the man whose thoughts and attitudes ARE contrary to these carnal ideas that can be seen in terms of tapeinos which IS rendered here as humble. While most of the defining ideas for tapeinos ARE rather negative in nature we should understand that the intended meaning CAN NOT be so as it IS the man whose expression IS tapeinos that DOES receive from God as we read in James words saying “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble“. And we should remember here that this same tapeinos IS the very nature of the Master who tells us “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29) where the word IS rendered as lowly.

We should try to read into this idea Jesus words on the self, words such as “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on” (Matthew 6:25). Here, in this continuation of Jesus’ words on “God and mammon” we should see the Life of the man who chooses God; it IS this man that IS free from hyperēphanos and hyperēphania which IS his sense of glamour for his Life in this world. And it IS this man to whom the Lord “giveth more grace “, NOT as a gift but as the due reward for keeping His words and here we should try to see that this reward IS that “the wisdom that is from above“. We close today with our trifecta, the words of Jesus that show us the reality of keeping His words and a deeper view of just what this Wisdom IS; we read:

  • If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
  • Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
  • He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:21-24).

We will continue with our thoughts in the next post.

Quote of the Day:

Let the peace of God rule in your hearts

  • Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1828 and 1913 from https://1828.mshaffer.com/
  • 2 New Testament Greek Lexicon on BibleStudyTools.com
  • 4 Word Studies in the New Testament; Marvin R Vincent D.D. 2nd edition
  • 8 Bible commentaries on BibleStudyTools.com
  • 9a The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible on blueletterbible.org
  • 9 Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on blueletterbible.org
  • *  Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
  • ** Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3 (University of California Press, 2015)

 Those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.  

Voltaire, Writer and Philosopher

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