Law and Unfailing Love

I am grateful for Your grace.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1f

Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!

Me: Holy Spirit, I kind of get the “law of sin and death”; that under the law no flesh is justified. But I am puzzled that this passage in Romans 8 talks of “the law of the Spirit and of Life in Christ Jesus”, as compared to “the law of sin and death”.

Holy Spirit: What puzzles you?

Me: I suppose I generally think of the law as prohibitive. Speed limits, prohibitions against theft, assault, murder, and mayhem. How does the law of the Spirit fit with that?

Holy Spirit: What about the law of physics, biology, chemistry? What do they do?

Me: They describe how something works. If we can observe that something always works the same way, given the conditions, we classify it as a law.

Holy Spirit: My Word never fails. It always works the same way. The laws spoken of in Romans 8 are spiritual laws. They are more sure than they laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, as understood by men.

Me: In that sense, then, “the law of sin and death” is not prohibitive, but instead describes how sin works?

Holy Spirit: You are made in the image of God; you have free will. I have simply told you how sin works (what it pays and the predictable outcome), as I have told you how life in Christ Jesus by My Spirit works.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Conformed to Christ’s Sufferings?

I am grateful that Jesus endured such suffering on my behalf, taking on Himself the penalty that is justly due to me.

Colossians 1:24

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in [literally “of”] Christ’s afflictions. NASB

Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: KJV

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. NIV

https://biblehub.com/interlinear/colossians/1-24.htm

Me: Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good Morning Jon!

Me: When I read that passage in Colossians 1:24 in the NASB it sounds like Paul was saying there was something lacking in Christ’s afflictions that Paul had to finish filling up. I know there was (is) nothing lacking in Christ’s afflictions because He said “It is finished” from the cross (John 19:30). It gets better if one puts in the footnote version of “of Christs afflictions” instead of “in Christ’s afflictions”. It seems to me with the NASB, the literal thing that they put in the footnotes is usually better than the thing they put in the text instead. [I don’t know why they do that.] How could anyone who knows You at all think there could be anything lacking in You or in what You do?

Holy Spirit: It is true that there is nothing lacking in Christ’s suffering. He is the faultless Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice. His offering is more than sufficient to atone for your every sin. Your sense of My nature not lacking in anything is correct. What did you find when you looked at the interlinear rendering on Bible Hub?

Me: It seems much clearer that Paul was talking about filling up in himself what was lacking in his identification with Jesus in His suffering (or passions) for the church. I got more of a sense that he wanted to be conformed to the Image of Christ in himself (Paul). I know there are other places that the scripture talks about being conformed to the suffering of Christ. I don’t yet have a good sense of how that should work in my life. I would say that compared to Your promises and grace that any suffering that I have had to endure has been negligible!

Holy Spirit: Consider what it says in Romans 8:

11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Me: I pray you will help me learn these things from the heart.

Holy Spirit: Jesus prayed that you and He would be one. From the heart. That is what these things mean; one in heart, seeking the same purpose, operating in the same love and power.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I pray you will help me grow in this oneness! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I Am and I love you!

Reaping the Whirlwind

Two and a half years ago I wrote a blog post called Subsidized Vandalism about the extensive new wind farm being put in near us by MidAmerican Energy. I won’t rehash that original post here. The link above will open it if you like. I took the featured photo for this post down the road from where I live on Sunday this past week. You may have heard about the “wind waste” problem related to aging wind farms. Did I mention this one is less than three years old?

I believe we are charged by God to be good stewards of His creation, though I have witnessed much done by men that has proven to the short sighted and destructive. Some short sighted and destructive behavior can easily be attributed to me. If one hangs around me long enough, though, I will be heard to say that failure to “count all the beans” if a fatal economic flaw in many projects. I would be hard pressed to imagine an undertaking where that ill wind blows more faithfully than in the wind-energy industry.

I understand that many are being – how shall I say this? – proselytized by the climate change religion whose preachers assert that we have been much worse than poor stewards of creation; but predict with certainty in their voices that we are on the verge of destroying the earth’s ability to sustain us. The preachers are often in our schools; that particular religion is apparently OK within those walls. The motivation is usually held to be greed, rather than pure malice. Those who live where there is public transportation may blame drivers of cars. Those who need a car to get to work may blame eating meat. The point seems to be that someone must be to blame. I suspect ignorance is the most prevalent root cause of casting blame. Any climate change non-believers must endure attempts to shame any who are capable of such, into giving assent to any effort that can be remotely classified as “green”. We have to save the planet at all costs, after all.

Once one discounts the existence and promise of the Creator, it becomes easy to let fear consume all hope and believe the (carefully crafted and oft repeated) propaganda that we are feeling the breath of the mercenary evil who have set themselves over us and backed us up against the final precipice of doom.

I might as well own it. You can probably tell by now, anyway. I am one of the “deniers” that drive the fearful-of-climate-change-due-to-man to distraction. There are many reasons that I take this stance. Some of them are even based on science. However, the most powerful is a promise that I find in scripture. (At least I admit that mine is a religious argument.) The promise was made to Noah after the earth was destroyed by flood. In Genesis 8:22, we find this:

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

And in Romans 3:3-4

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

I trust God with my future. You can trust Him with yours. As a Christian, I don’t even worry about the case where earth “ceases to endure”. I have other promises of my continuance and that of anyone who believes in the One who has made it possible for us to get past anything (Romans 8:38-39). I “get” that those without belief in God persist in hopeless worry. If that was my state, I would never risk getting into a car.

Enough of owning my view on climate change. Let me get back to the rant at hand.

The best numbers I have heard is that break-even for a wind turbine is around twenty years; roughly the maximum lifetime. The numbers the industry cites in public statements, however, are more like one to two years to profitability. Of course, that includes the subsidies and many other shenanigans. It is maddeningly difficult to get a straight answer about the economics. I do know that here in Iowa there are plans to raise our electric rates to subsidize more wind farms. Why, oh, why would that be necessary in a profitable industry? Iowa wind power has now exceeded 42% of total generated power in the state. We Iowans are apparently all-in.

I started this rambling post to complain about the use of material that is not economically recoverable to manufacture the massive blades. The solution of the wind industry to this problem is to plow up large swaths of western prairie to bury them, where they will never decay while the earth endures. How green does that seem to you?

Lest you come to the conclusion that I am blowing wind waste all out of proportion here are three links to articles in publications that are usually willing to go way out on the limb of veracity to be supportive of anything “green”. If you read these, you will see that even they have a hard time putting a good spin on the waste generated by the wind industry. In the Des Moines Register article, you will see that MidAmerican is creating a great deal of this waste by reworking ten-year old windfarms to install bigger turbines. I would liken this to an individual trading in a vehicle for which he still owes more than its value.

It takes a big rug to sweep all the waste under.

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/10/759376113/unfurling-the-waste-problem-caused-by-wind-energy

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-05/wind-turbine-blades-can-t-be-recycled-so-they-re-piling-up-in-landfills

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/agriculture/2019/11/06/few-recycling-options-wind-turbine-blades-head-iowa-landfills/3942480002/

Prove

I am grateful for Your many hope-giving promises!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. – Ephesians 1:3-4

Me: Good afternoon Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good afternoon Jon!

Me: Every spiritual blessing seems pretty inclusive.

Holy Spirit: They include Me in you, as you are in Christ.

Me: That seems the zenith of all possible blessings, to be joined with You, Almighty, Omnipotent, and Holy, Holy, Holy!

Holy Spirit, I think of the many times I have heard teaching that God cannot look on sin. Some even explain that is why Jesus was said to ask why the Father had forsaken Him on the cross as He bore our transgressions and diseases (Matthew 27:46). This teaching that Jesus was expressing that He felt abandoned has always bothered me, but I can’t really mount a cogent argument against it, except that it seems so contrary to all of Jesus’ assertions of His unity with the Father. Plus, there are these passages that speak directly to Your nature on this matter:

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

… teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20

Holy Spirit: I would remind you that We came to the garden for a walk with Adam and Eve after they disobeyed the one direction that they were given. Do not think that We did not know of their sin (Isaiah 46:10). The scripture also records Our conversation with Cain after he murdered his brother. As for Jesus, He was not abandoned by the Father, nor did He think so. Accusing words with that meaning would never cross his lips for that was not in His heart that day any more than it has been on any other day.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

He was quoting the beginning of Psalm 22. The passage was well known to those around Him. He was reinforcing that He is the Messiah. Think of His disciples dismayed and dispirited, thinking this was the end of the promises He made and their relationship with Him. Read Psalm 22, and you will clearly see. Those too blind to see, misinterpreted His words at the time (Matthew 27:47). His words were directed to those not too blind, who would be drawn to understanding that this His crucifixion was the very fulfillment of the graphic prophecy written in the Psalm.

Finally, He was raised in power on the third day. Not what you would expect of one who had lost faith in the Father, even momentarily, at the end of breath.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! That helps a lot!

Jesus told the rich young ruler that there is none good, except God alone (Mark 10:18). The the verse in Ephesians says we ‘would be holy and blameless before Him’, when does ‘would be’ mean?

Holy Spirit: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) Why do you suppose that verse includes the word ‘prove’?

Me: From Merriam-Webster: Prove (some aspect of every sense applies)

When I design a new electronic system, I have it subjected to a whole suite of tests to “prove” that it performs as required in all foreseeable circumstances and environments in which it is intended to be used. I watch its behavior under all the stresses to which it is subjected. Until all that testing is accomplished, there is a risk that I only think I have a robust design that will perform the functions it was designed for, when it is called upon.

Holy Spirit: In other words, you prove by testing that your work is not flawed and there is therefore a firm basis to place faith in it.

My work is perfect. It includes my design of you – in My image – and like the things you design, the things I Am giving you to do.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

My image is like My design requirements for you. The difference in you and your electronic device, is that I have also given you free will because My will is unfettered by anything but My own choice. You therefore have the ability to embrace My design and provision (and Truth) or to ignore My guidance and go off in a way that seems right to you. If you do go your own way, it is the equivalent of your device being proved not to conform to the design requirements, and requiring correction to cause it to conform.

There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25)

“[I]n Christ” is key. Ephesians 1 verses three and four each say it once, as does Ephesians 2:10. Consider how often Jesus, as your example, stated His unity with the Father: John 10:30, 14:7, 14:9, 17:21 and 17:23. And, there is this verse in Colossians 3:14 explaining the power behind how this works:

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. I Am Here to help you. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Stubborn

Me: Good morning Holy Spirit! I am perplexed by the way You told Isaiah to deliver a message (chapter 6) that Jesus later quoted in Matthew 13 to explain why He taught in parables.

Isaiah’s Commission

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Jesus’ Explanation

13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Holy Spirit: Good morning Jon! Part of the problem being addressed is willfulness. In your idiom, one might say “he didn’t want to hear it”, or some such expression implying a closed mind or heart. How does that work out in practice? The message being delivered is contrary to the belief or desire of the recipient, so he discounts it entirely.

Jesus taught in parables because they were stories that were easily remembered and contained a somewhat oblique example of the truth that He wanted to teach. This approach at least has a chance of getting past the mental defenses of the willfully disobedient to get some level of consideration. An important aspect of a parable is that it is about someone other than the hearer; it is not a direct challenge to his mistaken beliefs. Nor is is an override of the choice of the individual. He may take it or leave it; spend time musing about it, or not.

You were created with the ability to filter the information you perceive, to categorize, to make judgments as to its value and to remember what you consider important. Control of this process is mostly subconscious and is regulated by your beliefs. Filtering of information was designed to be subconscious. If it were not so, it would increase the burden instead of easing the work the attentive part of the mind must do. Taken together, your beliefs and understanding of your environment is sometimes called your worldview.

Looking inward, people have beliefs about themselves. The same filtering of perceptions takes place related to self and to one’s behavior. For example, if you believe “I’m a good person”, your are less likely to be able to determine if criticism of your behavior is valid than if you believe you are good insofar as you are submitted to the leading of Christ. No one is harder to correct than the person who is completely convinced he is right.

Me: Of course, I believe He is good, and what I do is good if it is of His leading. (Mark 10:18, John 15:5) Still, I recognize that I sometimes have a negative script running in my head. At least I may recognize it if it rises to the level of consciousness or if negative emotions get egregious enough to bring it to the forefront.

Holy Spirit: That is why the scripture tells you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). And you know from the process of learning anything difficult, that takes time and repetition. You should also recognize that as you have submitted to My leading that negativity has greatly diminished over time.

Me: You could remove it in the twinkling of an eye.

Holy Spirit: My way assures that it is obvious that it is your choice.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!