ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: MATHEMATICAL METAPHORS, Part 3
November 20, 2015
OK. Thought I was going to finish up this thing on math last week, but I can't help it. I get started with this stuff and can't stop. I love the parallels in Scripture. Math and mathematical principles abound in the Word of God. God is very precise in everything that He does, and we govern our lives according to that precision.
Math was always one of my favorite subjects in school. From the time I was in grade school, junior high, high school/college (you remember that I never attended a regular high school – I went straight from 8th grade into classes with the University of Nebraska), math was one of my easiest and most fun subjects. It just came easy. Guess it's one of those gifts the Lord gave me from my youth up. Remembering mathematical formulas was always a piece of cake. Just kind of goes along with engineering, too, if you know what I mean – hence my near-lifelong involvement in broadcasting engineering and electronics.
Anyway, one of the things they teach you in math is that the laws of physics dictate reciprocals. A reciprocal is always the exact, polar opposite of whatever number or numerical equation. Kind of goes like this: the reciprocal of 2/3 is 3/2. The reciprocal of 27/32 is 32/27. The reciprocal of ½ is 2/1 – and so forth.
An example of a reciprocal formula goes like this: <![if !vml]><![endif]>
The reciprocal of north is south. The reciprocal of east is west – and vice-versa. If you have a positive or a plus, the reciprocal is a negative, or a minus. That’s a bit over-generalizing, but you get the idea.
Reciprocals, however, are not just laws of mathematics. They are not simply laws of physics.
Reciprocals are laws of nature.
Reciprocals are also laws of the spirit. Let me illustrate.
In his epistle to the Ekklesias in Rome, Paul writes, “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 8:1-2)
See the reciprocal? The positive is “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” The negative, or reciprocal, is “the law of sin and death.” We can come back to this in a minute, but let’s look at some others.
In John’s first general epistle to the body of Christ (I John 4:18), he writes,“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”
There’s a perfect example of spiritual reciprocals: love and fear. We usually think of love and hate as being reciprocals, or opposites, but the truth is that hate comes out of fear. Hatred is a byproduct of fear. The true reciprocal to love is actually fear.
There’s another aspect to this picture of love and fear also.
The apostle Paul amplifies this while talking about another spiritual reciprocal: circumcision and uncircumcision. In Galatians 5:6 we read, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
I have frequently referred to faith and fear as working in the same realm – as being opposites of the same thing; and here’s where it comes from. Faith and love are inseparable. They work together. Faith works by love; and love works by and through faith. Think about it for a second.
Take away love and faith is non-existent. Without love, there is no motivator, no force and means by which faith can function. It is our love of the Lord by which faith functions.
Applying that rule to the faith/fear picture, we look once again at what John wrote, and this time, let me give you my translation from the Greek: “There is no fear or terror in love, but perfected, completed and mature love casts out fear or terror; because fear with alarm and terror inflicts punishment and torment. He who is tormented and afflicted with fright and alarm cannot be made whole and complete in love.”
Now, let’s go back to the two primary laws of the Spirit. The first law, as we’ve already said, is “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Simply stated, that law is described as the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. It is absolute, and it is unequivocal. One cannot enjoy a condemnation-free life unless they walk after the Spirit.
The reciprocal and polar opposite law is described by the apostle Paul as the Law of Sin and Death. This law was implemented when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Law of Sin and Death was the natural consequence.
Because this law is final in its effects and consequences, and the human race as a whole has been infected by the knowledge virus which brings sin and death, there is no deliverance in the natural realm from the consequences of this law. The tragedy is that this law need not ever have been put into force.
Had Adam and Eve never eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, their seed would never have inherited the sinful arrogance and pride that comes from eating of the knowledge of good; and their children would never have known the contrast of evil with good, they would never have been infected by the Fear of Evil, and there would never have been a reciprocal in operation for the Law of the Spirit of Life.
The parallel to the Law of the Spirit of Life is the Law of Love. Jesus made the following command to believers, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” We’ll come back to this law momentarily.
Based on this commandment, the apostle Paul expands on the differences between the Law of the Spirit of Life, and the Law of Sin and Death.
First of all, he says (Galatians 5:17), “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.”
In so saying, he makes clear the fact that one cannot serve the desires of the flesh, walk after the Law of Sin and Death, and still walk after the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
He continues, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Then he illustrates the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus by saying, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Notice that the very first item that comes from walking after the Law of the Spirit of Life is love. Once again, it is clear that the parallel to this primary law is love.
I won’t take the time today to rehearse the 13th chapter of I Corinthians (known as the “love chapter”) but the evidence of the Law of Love working in you IS the fruit of the Spirit, among which also we find faith. If the first evidence of our walk after the Spirit of Life is love, it follows that faith must also be operational. This brings us back to one of our first pictures of a spiritual reciprocal: faith and fear.
Faith and fear are polar opposites. One cannot have faith and be afraid of anything. It is simply incompatible. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Once you’ve heard that Word and it is lodged in your mind, your heart and your spirit, it becomes evidentiary. Once you have faith, you begin to talk faith. It comes out of our mouth as a creative force. You expect God’s Word to be fulfilled. After all, He has NEVER said anything He didn’t fulfill or accomplish. And you act on that Word with that expectation.
Fear is faith in reverse. With fear, you believe that something evil is going to happen. Once you believe it, you speak it. Once you speak it, you begin to take action to prevent or deal with the expected impending evil, despite the fact that fear is only imaginary evil. What’s worse, the voice of fear in your spirit is lying to you and speaking something that is directly contradictory to the Word of God.
Let me illustrate.
In Psalm 91, David wrote, “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
How much clearer do you want things? “There shall NO evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”
It is unequivocal and uncompromising. There are no “ifs,” “buts” or “maybes.” David describes the condition under which this Truth is operational when he says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Then he writes, “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee…..”
Finally, he says, “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him.”
Here’s the best one of all: “With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”
So much for insurance policies! Insurance policies are all taken out in fear of what might happen. If we live our lives on the basis of what the Lord says will happen, there can be no “what if,” or “suppose.” The Word of God is clear, unambiguous and unequivocal.
Faith says that God never lies. Faith says that God’s Word is Truth. Faith says, “If God says it, I believe it; and that settles it!” Faith takes positive action and steps to follow after the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
Fear, on the other hand, says, “Hath God said?” Fear takes portions of Scripture out of context and twists them so as to cause doubt and unbelief. Suppose Jesus had listened to Satan quoting the 91st Psalm when he tempted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the Temple because “He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone”? It would have been to dare God’s Word. It would have amounted to nothing less than an expression of doubt and unbelief that God’s Word was true.
I don’t want to go there today because it’s another long discussion, but one of my pet gripes against some would-be Christians is the great lengths to which they go to prepare for the “Great Tribulation.” I refer to them as “would-be” because they live their lives in fear of doom and gloom instead of living their lives in absolute faith and trust in the Word of God. They live their lives looking for the end rather than a continuing life enveloped in Christ Jesus.
I don't want to beat people up who've been stuck with a "Tribulation" mentality. They just haven't received the revelation that Heaven is NOT our objective. Heaven isn't even our final dwelling place. Heaven is only a stopover for Eternity. JESUS is our objective! He MUST be our only objective!
As John closes out the book of Revelation, he says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
In so saying, he places the fearful and unbelieving in the same category as murderers and whoremongers (the sexually promiscuous). John makes it clear that those who live their lives in fear cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.
Faith and Fear. Love and Fear. Believing and Unbelieving. Circumcision and Uncircumcision. (That’s a metaphoric way of describing those who either live by the Law [of Moses], or those who live by the Law of Faith in Christ Jesus.) The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus vs. the Law of Sin and Death.
These are spiritual laws. They are spiritual reciprocals. What are you choosing?
I've quoted him before and I'll quote him again -- my lifetime friend and brother in the Lord, Dwain McKenzie, "Things are not what they seem to be, they’re what God says they are!"
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