Love vs Fear – Overcoming Sin

Jesus said the greatest commandment was “to love God with all of your heart, soul, and strength” (Matt 22:34-40) In addition, Jesus said, “if you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). It’s not possible to keep any of the commandments until you do the greatest one first.

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He First Loved Us

When asked by the Pharisees which is the greatest commandment, in Matt 22:34-40, Jesus replied, “Loving God with all of your heart, soul, and strength”. This is the “shema prayer” from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and he said to love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18).

1 John 4:19 says we should love God because he first loved us. When did he first love us? John 3:16 says God so loved the world that he gave his for born son the Messiah, and those that follow him will inherit the blessing of eternal life. This eternal life is the fulfillment of the promise to restore humanity after Adam’s sin (Gen 3:15).

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True Image of God

God said in the 2nd commandment of the 10, that we were not to make any images to worship (Ex 20:4). The thing is, God already made an image of himself in Genesis 1:26-27 when he made mankind in his image and likeness. When we love others we give God a true sacrifice (Heb 10:5-7, Psalms 50:14 & 23, Psalms 51:16-19), greater than any animal sacrifice offered by the Israelites in the Temple. James 3:6-9 explains that, among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire and it can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the “image of God”.

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Ask God in Faith

If we want something from God all we have to do is ask (Matthew 7:7-11). In Matthew 6:24-34, Jesus says that God will provide all our needs like food and clothing, but we must seek first the kingdom and trust him to take care of us like he does the animals and plants. He continues in Matt 7:9, that God gives generously like any father to his children, and when his child asks for bread, they will get bread and not a stone. He wants to give us the good things that we ask for. Even things like wisdom are available, Solomon asked for wisdom, and God answered and blessed him with more than just that (1 Kings 3:3-14).

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True Sacrifices of the Heart

In Matt 5:23-24 Jesus said that when an Israelite gave a sacrifice, they should apologize to and reconcile with anyone they have wronged. His point was that sacrifices shouldn’t have been given cold and ritualistically with no heart and that people should be mindful of their sins and repent when giving sacrifices. This is the actual purpose of sacrifices. The sacrifices of animals did not magically make a person holy, sacrificing was a part of the mechanism of repentance, (or thanksgiving) to God. Sacrificing was a way of showing God that you meant what you said and you weren’t just saying empty words when you repented. Killing an animal and burning its blood and fat on an altar is meaningless if we aren’t going to change our ways or learn from our mistakes. Our own sinfulness is a reminder of our humanity and fallibility, and sacrificing helps us empathize with those who have wronged us and reminds us that if things were the other way around we would want mercy and forgiveness. Jesus goes on about turning the other cheek instead of seeking revenge (verse 38-42) and says we need to forgive others and love even our enemies (verse 43-48). This is because God requires his people to live by a higher standard.

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John the Baptist Reincarnated?

I remember once seeing a Facebook post of an article claiming that the bible promotes reincarnation. This is one of many attempts at Christian syncretism with Dharmic religions. Another example is from those that say Jesus told people to “open their third eye chakra” based on what he said about the eye being the entry point of light in the body in Matt 6:22-23. This is clearly an allegory with light representing righteousness, and Jesus warning people about self-righteousness. The reincarnation idea is based on Matt 11:13-15 and Matt 17:10-13, in which Jesus says that John the Baptist is Elijah. There is a footnote in some translations to Malachi 4:5 here. Which says, “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.”

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Reincarnation vs Judgement

Is Christian theology or Abrahamic theology for that matter compatible with reincarnation? What is reincarnation, is it the same as a resurrection? In a resurrection, a person returns to the earth from the dead in a regenerated version of their original body. Reincarnation involves a return to the land of the living but in a different body with a different identity entirely.

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The Substance of Faith

Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In order for it to be the “substance” of something hoped for there must be something substantive (like a promise) that was given in the past, that we could have hope for the fulfillment of in the future. Since the future has not been seen yet, our evidence for the promise being fulfilled is based on our trust that God will do it because he promised to do it. We must trust that God is faithful to his promises.

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