Tag Archives: Pure

No Halfway Measure

A convicted terrorist from Guantanamo Prison is pardoned, released and then rehabilitated so completely, he qualifies to be a federal judge.  You didn’t hear about that?  Good.  I don’t think that has been suggested…  yet.  But something more astonishing is what happens to someone who is reconciled by the blood of Jesus (See: Reconciled).  Paul didn’t want anyone to miss the full measure of what that means, so he said:

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—” (Colossians 1:21-22)

When God reconciles us, He changes us from His enemies to ones who are free from accusation!  From evil behavior to holy!  That’s quite a jump, from one extreme of the moral spectrum to the far, opposite end.  Hard to fully comprehend because we can’t manage anything like it on our human plane.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Well, I’m a bit alienated from God – I’m not perfect by any means – but I wouldn’t consider myself to be an enemy.”  But God sees no middle ground.  If you are not for Him, you are against Him.   He does not grade on a curve.  Same thing between evil and holy: no shades of gray in the middle.  That’s not to say there’s no moral difference between you and a terrorist.  God assigns these radical judgments “in His sight.”  See that, at the end of the quote above?

God takes an enemy, reconciles him or her through the sacrifice of Jesusto present  that person to Himself completely holy, unable to be justly accused of anything.  God sees the reconciled according to what that person will become. It does not say this transformation happens immediately, but that this is the ultimate purpose and what will be accomplished.  Perhaps you have put your trust in Christ, accepted this gift and still recognize a few things in your life for which you could be accused.  Yeah, me too, except with me it’s more than a few.  But understand this and hang on to it:  Because God sees no middle ground, He takes no halfway measures.  He will do everything necessary to bring you to the finish line, faultless in His sight.  He will not leave you, halfway.  Paul says, in another letter, he is

“… confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

No halfway measures.

Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

The Rinse Cycle

Babies lie.  They learn very early that it pays off to deceive.  You’ve seen it – the fake crying, the pretending to be hurt, followed by furtive glances to see who is paying attention.  It’s not long before babies learn to covet.  And steal.

Which, of course, means that before we are out of diapers, we are already breaking the 10 commandments in pretty routine way.  I said “we” because those babies grow up to be us, complete with twisted spaghetti strands of mixed motives, woven through our hearts.  The most prolific writer of the New Testament called himself the worst of all sinners, and said even in his best moments, sin was right there with him, messing everything up.

But Jesus said,

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  (Matthew 5:8)

Not, the pretty good,” but the pure.”  How you doin’?  Me?  I’ve got a long way to go before “pure” is even on the horizon.  So what does this mean for us?  How is this teaching supposed to encourage us?

If you have been following these posts about the Sermon on the Mount (They start HERE), you won’t be surprised to know that, again, this teaching points us to the gift Jesus gives to those who trust Him – the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Here’s how He describes the impact of receiving the Spirit:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  (John 7:38)

Years ago, a woodsman took me on a hike and showed me how to find a spring.  When he found a likely place, he cleared away the twigs and rotting leaves, digging down into the dirt and mud, until a small trickle of water emerged.  He said, “Now we have to wait and keep cleaning out this pool.”  As the water continued to flow, the small pool he’d dug began to change from dark, thick mud, to  muddy water, eventually looking much clearer.  It became like a fine lens, allowing us to clearly see the pebbles below.  And still we waited.  And waited.  But the time came when we submerged our faces into the pool and drank deeply.  The water was clean and cool.  It was refreshing.  It was pure.

It takes a lifetime, but that is what happens to the heart of the one who surrenders to Jesus.  The Spirit flows through them, gradually transforming them and cleansing them.  The day is coming when our hearts will be pure, the day when we will see God.