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“The one believing into the Son has everlasting life; but the one disobeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36 (The Interlinear Bible)
Understanding the “heart” of the words used by anyone makes a big difference. Taking the time to think words through can make the difference between taking offense or understanding someone’s heart better. It can make the difference between understanding or misunderstanding. It can be the difference between black and white, or shades of gray and white. It matters. I know I have placed more into people’s words in a good way and found out I was wrong and I’ve placed more into people’s words in a bad way and found out I was wrong. I suppose that’s why You, Lord, warn about the damage our tongues can do. Because they take what our minds think about other people’s words and announce the thoughts of our hearts. Which can also be a dangerous place to announce things from since You tell us our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. So what do words, my tongue, and my heart have to do with this verse and faith today?
Well, if I don’t take time to look carefully at the words used here, if I just rely on what everyone else saw and don’t look carefully for myself, I might miss what You are trying to tell me today. In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “believeth” is used twice. So that would make me automatically think that in the original language, both of the words used were the same. But that is not the case. The first is “pisteuo,” that faith we have been looking into, and the second is “apeitheo.” The first means to have faith and entrust oneself, the second means to “disbelieve (wilfully and perversely):- not believe, disobedient, obey not, unbelieving.” So, it’s more than just an opposite meaning because a “not” is placed in front of it. It implies more.
It helps me understand what my faith actually looks like in real life. The one sentence tells me the person who believes has eternal life but the person who doesn’t believe doesn’t have life. But looking into the words actually tells me more about me. The person who believes and has eternal life is the person who obeys the Lord, whereas the person who resists the Lord and does not submit and obey Him will not experience eternal life, but His wrath instead. From that, I can see that obedience to You, Lord, must be a tell tale sign of my walk with You.
I wonder if it’s O.K. for me as a “Christian,” as a “believer,” to hold on to something that I know displeases You. Doesn’t that sound so minor, so harmless? Something that displeases You. Oh, so little. But, isn’t another word for that sin? Is any sin little and harmless? Now, I’m not talking about getting caught up in a wrong attitude where I haven’t realized my wrongness yet. But what if there is an area in my life and I know I should respond, yet I refuse? What if someone has hurt me or I even just perceive someone as hurting me and I choose to run with that pain and hold it against that person. I think that’s called unforgiveness. I think You, Lord, call that a sin. Oh, wait, maybe I should say, SIN, because in Your eyes there is no such thing as little sin. So, if I choose this SIN, then isn’t that wilfull and perverselly against You? Isn’t that disobeying and basically telling You that You don’t know what You are talking about and I don’t believe that Your way is working for me?
I’m not even thinking about the issue of eternal security here. I’m just looking at the facts of what You are telling me my walk with You ought to look like. And if there is anything in it that doesn’t look like what You say it should, then I need to get that right, because I’m the one missing out, and I’m the one misleading and hurting others in the meantime. Because the other point is that I possess eternal life already. Imagine that. The believer “has everlasting life.” Or maybe that should be written, “has Everlasting Life.” Why? Because You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The believer has YOU. The believer is continually, supernaturally being conformed into Your image by the Life that lives inside them. That Life cannot hate. That Life cannot be bitter. That Life must love. That Life must be righteous. That Life must forgive.
But the one refusing to submit to the Son, the one refusing to surrender in belief and obedience, will never come to have that relationship. They will not see Life. They will not be inhabited by Life. They don’t even know what they are missing. And they won’t realize it until it is too late.
But I think the point is that as believers, we can live like nonbelievers, like the disobedient and perverse, and think ourselves right. If we are not careful, we can walk around justifying ourselves every time instead of allowing You, Lord, to justify us in Your perfect timing. Which brings me back to the image of being conformed.
Yesterday, I kept looking into this idea of being conformed. And I was asking if that’s what You wanted me to look into. But then I felt I needed to keep looking into faith. But faith brings me to conform. Romans 8:29,30 says, “whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the firstborn among many brothers. But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; but whom He justified, these He also glorified.” And in looking up definitions of the word for conform and “morph,” it’s root, it got me thinking. And now this verse confirms those thoughts even more.
Noah Webster, who was a man of God himself, defined conform as “to reduce to a likeness or correspondence in manners, opinions or moral qualities” and he directly referenced this verse and Romans 7. Now that’s the transitive verb which is the “verb” being done to us. God, You are doing and I am receiving Your action, Your work. But Mr. Webster gives and “intransitive” verb definition of “to comply with or yield to; to live or act according to.” So on the one hand, You are actively doing in me and on the other hand I must act on what You have done by complying and yielding. My walk with You is a two way reaction. First You react to me, and then I must react in the right way to what You are doing in me.
Lord, I want to always live in the reality of the Life that is in me. I don’t want to forget Who is at the heart of me. I want to live as a believer and not like a nonbeliever. I want to live in obedience and not defiantly to You. I want to see You and Your life continually in me and around me. I want to see Your life bloom in those around me. Don’t let me be a hindrance by my lack of yielding to You, by my lack of surrender. Let me readily forgive. Let me run to You to fill my mind and heart with Your words instead of other people’s words. Let me run to You to fill my heart with Your truths and promises and feelings for me instead of other people’s temporary feelings for me which change. And let me run to You before making judgments of other people. Let me leave it in Your hands to conform me and to confrom them into Your image. And while I do, just let me be in the absolute bliss, the true shalom, that comes with being yielded in You, in my Life. Because You do have it ALL under control.