Thursday, August 11, 2016

Taking Every Thought Captive to LOVE

Yesterday, while listening to a teaching CD I got an amazing revelation, in the Greek,  *rhema*, if you will - the written word became the Living Word as I was driving across my rural coastal county on an average everyday astounding morning of new mercies and grace in His presence there in my minivan on that very first Wednesday in extraordinary time.  
I began thinking about the scripture the speaker was expounding upon that says we tear down imaginations and thoughts and everything that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ… and my understanding of my purpose and place in His plan in this divinely created universe shifted:

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (Amplified)  For though we walk in the flesh as mortal men, we are not carrying on our spiritual warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man.  The weapons of our warfare are not physical weapons. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,  being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience is complete.
“We take every thought captive to the obedience of the knowledge of Christ” was the simplest paraphrase of the verse that came to mind.  I realized in that moment that the knowledge of God, the knowledge of Christ, Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit is immense, immeasurable, and takes each one of us our entire lifetime to apprehend.  The deeper we go in seeking Him and pursuing the fullness of knowing Him, the more we realize there is to know of Him.  To know the depths of any one attribute of the Godhead is beyond human capacity.  And, wouldn’t you know, we in our religious fervor have camped out in this one verse trying just to take every thought captive to the knowledge of God in his holiness…  and gotten so overwhelmed and intimidated by the threat of *punishing every act of disobedience* that, just as Adam who had walked with the very same God of all love just hours before, we hide ourselves in terror from Him, who calls out, “My child, where art thou? Why are you hiding? I so loved you in eternity past that I sent My only Son, to be slain from before the foundation of this world You know I love you.  Why are you hiding?”  God’s perfect holiness is what makes His love so pure and just and trustworthy.  His holiness is WHY we can run to Him Who is LOVE.  He is Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.  He knew the end from the beginning and set us up for redemption before we were even created.  I may never in this life fully understand that, but I can try to fully trust in that truth.
The knowledge of Christ includes all the fruit of the Spirit.
So we're to take every thought captive to the knowledge of JOY In Christ
So we take every thought captive to the unbounding immeasurable LOVE of Christ
We take every thought captive to the KINDNESS which is a very heart of God toward us in Christ
In our religious fervor, we only have ever tried or been taught to take every thought and feeling and attitude captive to *holiness*, but that is not the whole heart of God; that is not the whole knowledge of God at all, is it?  Adam hid from God when confronted with the holiness of God apart from the love of God.  God is holy.  God is perfectly holy, without fault, unable by His very nature to be unjust or unkind or unloving.  However we must know He is just as perfect in loving as He is in holiness. I love this translation of the oft quoted verse in the Berean Literal Bible from the clandestine nighttime meeting between Nicodemus and the God of the universe clothed in human flesh from the gospel of John:
For God so loved the world that He gave the only begotten Son, so that everyone believing in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life.

What is *believing* but taking our thoughts captive to an idea in which we put faith and trust?? Put the verse in context.  Nicodemus had spent a lifetime in study of the Law of Moses (Torah) and the traditions of the rabbis interpreting the Law (Talmud), but having advanced politically, professionally and socially to being a *ruler* of his people, he was unsettled. He was not satisfied with the opinions of his compatriots among the Pharisees, this ruling class of the keepers of the Law.  He had not figured out how this Nazarene carpenter fit into what he knew of Scripture and its interpretation in his daily life.  Nicodemus risked everything he had in his ruling position in Judea to get close enough to this rabble-rouser Jesus, the son of Joseph, to question Him about the signs that followed Him and what they meant to a man like Nicodemus.

And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. He came to Him by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one is able to do these signs that You do, unless God should be with him.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, except anyone be born from above, he is not able to see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus says to Him, “How is a man able to be born, being old? Is he able to enter into the womb of his mother a second time, and to be born?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless anyone be born of water and of the Spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God. That having been born of the flesh is flesh, and that having been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not wonder that I said to you, ‘It is necessary for you all to be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know from where it comes and where it goes. Thus is everyone having been born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How are these things able to be?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel, and do you not know these things? Truly, truly, I say to you that we speak that which we know, and we bear witness to that which we have seen, and you people do not receive our witness.
If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? And no one has gone up into heaven except the One having come down out of heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, thus it behooves the Son of Man to be lifted up, so that everyone believing in Him may have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that He gave the only begotten Son, so that everyone believing in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. The one believing in Him is not judged, but the one not believing already has been judged, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light, so that his works may not be exposed; but the one practicing the truth comes to the Light, that his works may be manifest as having been done in God.”

I imagine that, having had that private audience with Jesus, that lover of my soul, Nicodemus must have had a radical life change from that very moment.  I am trying to superimpose the memory of the college fellowship meeting where I had my radical encounter with the love and forgiveness of the Living God onto this scene in ancient Judea.  Did they meet in the basement of the student union at the University of Jerusalem?  Nicodemus *came to Him by night* saying “I know this much, but I don’t understand what it means.  I feel lost in my sin and I need to find a way to God.”  Maybe Nicodemus did not, but I did, and God answered me in a way that I understood.  Jesus paid the price for my sin that separated me from God and I could come directly to Father God at any time and be completely cleansed of all my sin.  I did not need a priest, a ruler of the people, a teacher of the Law; all I needed was faith in the name of Jesus as the One who takes away the sin of the world.   He was LOVE to me that night; He was LOVE to Nicodemus millennia before and He is LOVE now and always to all mankind.  Take and eat my body broken for you. Take and drink my blood poured out in eternal promise of my love and redemption of you.  Come sup with me.  I am yours.   Oh, what a divine romance; so very much more than just obedience to holiness.  Lost in His Love for me my relationship with Him and my very being on earth is about so much more than trying to keep all the rules I have ever heard taught. Nicodemus, knowing all the Law, wanted to know, “Can I put my faith and trust in You, when I do not understand how you fit into all my keeping of the Law?” Yes, Nicodemus. We can and must put our faith and trust in the Law-giver and the only One who ever fulfilled all the Law. In Him, there are really only TWO “Laws” left in the Law of Christ and they both are the application of the Law of Love.  This was what Jesus said when another Pharisee came to challenge Him, rather than in the humility that Nicodemus had in seeking Him:

[Jesus asked the man] “What has been written in the Law? How do you read it?”
And answering, [the man] said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind’ and ‘Your neighbor as yourself.’”
And [Jesus] said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

Love.  He is love. He loves us and commands only that we love as He has loved us.  How many times in Scripture did Jesus turn a conversation about the keeping of the Law into a conversation about LOVE and REDMPTION? So now let us take every thought captive to Love and to all that flows out of His Boundless Love- Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness and Self-control, “for against such things there is no law”.