Apostasy, Our High Priest, & Our Participation

The book of Hebrews was of course written to Christians, but also very much with the doubting Jew in mind. With this observation as part of his basis, John Owen had what seems to be a unique perspective on one particular element of the following warning:

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:28-29

“The last aggravation of this sin with respect unto the blood of Christ is that it is that ‘wherewith he was sanctified.’ This is not a real internal sanctification, but a separation and dedication unto God, in which sense the word is often used. Some have thought that this refers unto the person guilty of the sin here insisted on; but the design of the Apostle in the context leads plainly to another application of these words. It is Christ Himself who is spoken of, who was sanctified and dedicated to God to be an eternal High Priest by the blood of the covenant which He offered unto God. That precious blood of Christ whereby He was sanctified and dedicated unto God they esteemed an “unholy thing,” that is, such as would have no effect as to consecrate Him unto God and to His office.”
John Owen, from his commentary on the book of Hebrews

An earlier section of Hebrews directly confirms this:

For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did once, when He offered up Himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
Hebrews 7:26-28

This actually renders the warning much more grave than it sounds on the surface, particularly against the religious deception of antichrists. The writer of Hebrews is saying that this apostasy from Christ is of such a nature that it denies not only the full legitimacy of Jesus’ high-priestly office, but also its absolute uniqueness.

For Christ’s own blood consecrated Him unto an office that can neither be substituted, nor shared with, nor acted within, by any other man. And to do so is to “do despite unto the Spirit of Grace.” For the Holy Spirit is the only rightful person by whose power we can be made partakers in the very same Indestructible Life according to which our High Priest made His intercession.

Therefore it is by the Spirit’s groaning within us that we are continually made both witness and subject to the transaction of Christ’s death and resurrection within ourselves, as we also groan with Him.

By this we eat of His bread, and by this we drink of His cup; for in this we discover and become a functioning member of His living body, which is thereby being perfected.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
1 Corinthians 10:16 (ESV)

To Know The Mind Of Christ

The intellect of a man is a gift from God; but no matter how great it may be, it must in all things be found subservient to the mind of Christ: which mind is made known only by the Spirit through the right operation of His Body.

For who (individually) has understood the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But WE (the Body) have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16 [ESV]

…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might NOW be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 3:10 [ESV]

Where the Body is at war with its own members, the mind of Christ is not understood by them; for they each serve their own interests. Nature itself displays this to us.

To know the mind of Christ, one must first be mindful of whom He knows.

“Faed Fiada” – Patrick of Ireland

“I bind me today,

God’s might to direct me,
God’s power to protect me,
God’s wisdom for learning,
God’s eye for discerning,
God’s ear for my hearing,
God’s word for my clearing.

God’s hand for my cover,
God’s path to pass over
God’s buckler to guard me,
God’s army to ward me,
Against snares of the devil,
Against vice’s temptation,
Against wrong inclination,
Against men who plot evil,
Anear or afar, with many or few.

Christ near,
Christ here,
Christ be with me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ be o’er me,
Christ before me.

Christ in the left and the right,
Christ hither and thither,
Christ in the sight,
Of each eye that shall seek me,
In each ear that shall hear,
In each mouth that shall speak me
– Christ not the less
In each heart I addresss.

I bind me today on the Triune – I call,
With faith in the Trinity – Unity – God over all.”

Patrick of Ireland

Thought on Devotion

Man tends to operate (without saying it) upon this strange notion that his self-made religion is steadfast, reliable, and eternal; whereas relationships are only turbulent, sporadic, and tenuous. Yet the opposite is true with God. Relationship with God is only as turbulent, sporadic, or as tenuous as we ourselves make it.

He is faithful. What are we?

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
Psalm 62:5-8

Peace Transcends Understanding

Knowledge requires the peace of God if knowledge is to be held in Godliness. I say not only peace with God, but also the peace OF God.

For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
Ecclesiastes 1:18

Solomon largely spoke here to the wisdom of earthly learning; but how much more this is true of spiritual understanding, especially when it is not couched in spiritual Life!

For instance, one who has been given discernment must always, perhaps more than most others, be constantly retreating into the secret place of the Almighty for peace, lest the isolating nature of knowledge become its own snare rather than the purifying crucible it is meant to be. And understanding alone is no antidote to either madness or vice. For the seed that it sows remains barren, or worse, brings forth the brambles of bitterness, when not accompanied by the watering of God’s grace and peace. Even true discernment, without the peace of God, leads only to misery; on the part of both the discerner and the discerned.

The one who discerns yet does not walk in the peace of God gradually strips himself of the true gift, and becomes worse than he was before ever havng received it. For our walk with God is to be just that: a walk with HIM – not a walk with gifts or with understanding, but with He who freely authors those things within us. The Lord is already pleased with His gifts – He made them after all – yet what He more deeply yearns for is to know us, and for us to know Him.

Seeking to fulfill the appetite that the flesh has for God’s approval of our gifts and understanding (which are His anyways), rather than pursuing the intimate presence of the Lord Himself, is a hollow path to travel. It is a life destined to become filled with the unspiritual sacrifices and selfish jealousy of Cain; where the inner life with Christ is lost in a thick fog of ungodly discontent, and where “sin lieth at the door.”

The best that our self-made religion has to offer is an understanding without peace, which is not the true knowledge of God.

Men think that great understanding will bring them peace; when it is truly God’s peace that transcends all understanding.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses ALL understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Scripture & Quote – John Chrysostom

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:3

“Now if peace be of grace, why hast thou high thoughts? Why art thou so puffed up, being saved of grace? And if thou hast peace with God, why wish to assign thyself to others, since this is what separation comes to? For what if you be at “peace” with this man, and with the other even find “grace?” My prayer is that both these may be yours from God; both from Him I say, and towards Him.

For neither do they abide secure except they enjoy the influence from above; nor unless God be their object will they aught avail you: for it profiteth us nothing, though we be peaceful towards all men, if we be at war with God; even as it is no harm to us, although by all men we are held enemies, if with God we are at peace. And again it is no gain to us, if all men approve, and the Lord be offended; neither is their any danger, though all shun and hate us, if with God we have acceptance and love.

For that which is verily grace, and verily peace, cometh of God, since he who finds grace in God’s sight, though he suffer ten thousand horrors, feareth no one; I say not only no man, but not even the devil himself; but he that hath offended God suspects all men, though he seem to be in security… Thus, if ye will mark it, David was in favor with God, Absalom was in favor with men. What was the end of each, and which of them gained most honor, ye know.”

– John Chrysostom (347-407)

Scripture & Thought – Obedience & The Self

There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus set me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit.
Romans 8:1-4 (LITV)

A man cannot overemphasize his total inability to please God in and of himself; but there are those who struggle to obey God because they overshadow the cross of Christ with the ruinous heap of their recurring sins. This in itself is actually a fleshly self-centeredness, it is a faithless sin to be repented of in view of God’s mercy. For if one fears and delights in the Lord, including the sufficiency of His work and a trusting in His desire to continue it, then that same one delights in nothing less than the glory of God’s Name; and to obey the Lord then becomes a joy despite one’s existing shortcomings.

Only by this does one draw near to God in such a way that his personal faults and long-entrenched sins can be overcome in the Lord’s ever-nearer presence; for this honors the Holy Spirit and invites His power. But when our obedience is about ourselves, and not all about the Lord of Glory, then it is not true obedience anyways, and will ironically benefit us nothing. The Lord calls us not to the limit of our means, but far beyond, where we have no means but He Himself. The fruit of the Spirit is not invoked by the striving of the flesh.

For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither can it be. And those being in the flesh are not able to please God. But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.
Romans 8:5-9 (LITV)