Jesus – The Royal High Priest

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. And no one takes this honour on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand (Hebrews 5:1-6).

Where the writer to the Hebrew Christians wrote, We have much to say about this…,  the correct grammatical reading makes it clear that the reference to “this” – of which he has much to say, is specifically to the mysterious person, Melchizedek

He then digresses slightly from the focus on Melchizedek because he knew that the Hebrew Christians whom he was addressing, had been entrusted with the very words of God and with the Law of Moses, but they had accepted everything on a superficial external level and made little or no effort to gain spiritual wisdom, insight and understanding.

The writer to the Hebrews gently rebuked them in that they had been called to be a light unto the nations, but they had themselves been in need of learning the basics of their faith, (which was always intended to point to the coming of the Messiah). 

They needed to have their spiritual eyes opened and to re-learn, all over again, the elementary teaching of the Messiah and God’s purpose in redeeming humanity. 

“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing —testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:36-46).

When Jews say they do not believe in Jesus – by God’s own judgement they are also regarded as not really believing in Moses either, although in their hypocrisy they claim to follow Moses.

The writer to the Hebrews, having criticised their lack of effort to gain spiritual understanding and insight, then picks up again on the teaching about Melchizedek again in Hebrews 6:13.

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people —that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, 

paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. 

 

The following are extracts, but it is recommended that you read the entire book of Hebrews in preparation for the study of Jesus as our High Priest.

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:

“You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’”

Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance —now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Firstly, Let Us Establish who Melchizedek Is / (or Was)

His name, directly translated from Hebrew to English, is King of Righteousness.

King David wrote the following in Psalm 24 verses: 

They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Saviour (“God their Saviour” in Hebrew is literally “Yehoshua” transliterated in Hebrew, from which we get the name Jesus). Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty — he is the King of glory (Psalm 24:5-10).

The Kings of Israel were from the tribe of Judah and the priests were from the tribe of Levi and specifically as direct descendants of Aaron.

However, Zechariah was given a prophecy of a King who would build the temple of the Lord and who would also be a priest on his throne, in other words, a King and High Priest, a royal priest. 

The word of the Lord came to me: “Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jozadak. Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two’” (Zechariah 6:9-15).

Referring back to Hebrews 7 verses 11 to 17, note again, verse 14 speaks of Jesus being from the royal tribe of Judah – and yet replacing the priesthood in the order of Aaron from the tribe of Levi.

Concerning Melchizedek, let us examine quite carefully what the Scriptures say concerning him. 

But firstly, we should be aware that theologians are not in agreement as far as to who Melchizedek was – and I would suggest that it may also be because they do not really try to understand this mystery. They all have suggestions as to who Melchizedek may have been and miss the obvious, including among many of them, the well known bible teacher, John MacArthur. So, perhaps the words of the writer to the Hebrews did not only apply to the Hebrew- Christians, but to many theologians, pastors and Bible teachers to this very day.

We have much to say about Melchizedek, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

We need to daily immerse ourselves in the study of the Scriptures to fulfill our calling as priests under the only High Priest – but all too often, people accept the opinions of mere men.

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 

Before Jesus’ incarnation, there was only one human being who had no father or mother, namely, Adam. Who, having been perfectly made in the image of God, disobeyed God knowing that he would die. Adam disobeyed because his wife had been deceived and seduced by the devil and she too was subject to death.

There is only one human being who, from the time of his creation, in other words, who did have a beginning of days, who was called the son of God – and that is Adam. 

In giving the genealogy of Jesus, as a descendant of King David, Luke wrote concerning Adam, “…the son of Kenan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God (Luke 3:38). 

Adam was created by God without any human mother or father, in other words, Adam was not begotten by a human father – and neither was he begotten by God  in the womb of a human mother.

In whose image was Adam created? In the image of God.

We also know from Jesus and again from what Paul taught, that no one had ever come from heaven other than Jesus himself. He existed as the Word of God before his incarnation.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man (1 Corinthians 15:44-49).

Abraham met the King of Righteousness, who is also the King of the heavenly City of Jerusalem, who is also the spiritual heavenly man who in his appearance to Abraham, resembled the first man Adam, the son of God, in the flesh – for the first man, Adam was created in the image of  the heavenly man.

So, the heavenly man, who later became the Son of God when begotten in the virgin Mary, was a man from heaven who, before his incarnation, had no mother or father and no beginning of days and served on behalf of God as a Priest between humanity and God.

When the man from heaven was begotten in the virgin Mary, to become the Son of God and the son of a human parent, (the Sson of man), he was then also, in his humanity, designated as a priest in the order of the King of Righteousness.

In short then, to sum this up, Melchizedek, who appeared to Abraham was the Word of God who was destined to become flesh in the human man, Jesus. 

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! (Hebrews 7:1-4).

 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

 

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”

“Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God  hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God”.

“Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”

“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds  (John 8:31-47; 53-59).

When Jesus said that before Abraham was even born that – “I am!” – they knew that he was saying that he is the One who also appeared to Moses saying,  “I am who I am”. In other words, Jesus claimed to be God who appeared to Moses.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers —the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob —has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:13-15).

Jesus also appeared to Moses and it says that Moses saw he who is invisible, which is the spiritual man from heaven who later became incarnate in order to offer, as the High Priest, his body of flesh for a sacrifice for sin.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel (Hebrews 11:24-28).

Moses was given the Law. But as the writer to the Hebrews also notes, in verse 12, with the change of the priesthood, there is a change of the Law, – the New Covenant thereby makes the Old Covenant obsolete and it disappeared with the destruction of the temple in 70AD.

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 7:11-17). 

Under the Old Covenant, the high priest in the order of Aaron would make an animal sacrifice and only enter the Most Holy Place of the earthly temple once a year symbolically on behalf of the people of Israel.

Under the Old Covenant, while the temple was still standing, the Old Covenant Law illustrated that the way into God’s holy presence had not yet been made known or opened for humanity. 

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness (Hebrews 5:1-2).

Jesus, as High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, not only is he a human in every way and qualified to represent us before God, but he is also the heavenly man, the God-man, in whose image human beings were created;, he is the Lord God, the Word through whom and for whom everything has been created, so he is also fully qualified to, not only as a man, represent us before God, but also to fully represent God to us – the perfect mediator of the New and better Covenant.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

The proper translation of 1 Timothy 3:16 is slightly different to that of the NIV and should read as follows: 

Beyond all question, the mystery of God is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

The perfect mediator and high priest is one who is both fully representative of God and humanity – Jesus the Messiah.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs (Hebrews 1:1-4).

Jesus is the High priest and we who are also anointed (that’s what the name Christian means, anointed one) – are called into a royal priesthood.

The priests according to the line of Aaron offered an animal in place of the sinner – simply as a shadow of the sacrifice which God had prepared from the beginning of creation, which was the body of flesh of Jesus our High Priest.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

What are the righteous requirements of the Law of Moses? The soul that transgresses the law of Moses must die – the Law requires the death of the sinful nature which is in the flesh. In Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we put to death the former life in the flesh so that we may be raised to the new life in the Spirit. Our minds are no longer controlled by the sinful desires of the flesh but by the Holy Spirit through whom we learn to walk in obedience to Jesus our King and High Priest.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you (Romans 8:5-11).

For how long does the Lord, who is full of mercy and loving-kindness, grant us the opportunity to learn to walk in the Spirit and no longer according to the desires of the flesh?

 

He gives us a whole lifetime, which may seem short or long, depending upon your perspective of eternity and this present world which is passing away.

Jesus offered his own body of flesh as a sacrifice for sin.

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; [Jesus always existed in the presence of God and all things were made by him and for him. He was the King of the heavenly City of Jerusalem and he had no beginning of days, no human mother or father when he first appeared to Abraham. God became Jesus’ 

Father when he was begotten of God in the womb of the virgin –  at which time he became both the Son of God and the son of man.

Before his incarnation he existed as the heavenly man who had no mother of father. Jesus was given a human body of flesh just like ours which he then offered as a sacrifice for sin – so that he was thereby finally done with the flesh. 

With burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, my God.’” First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” —though they were offered in accordance with the law. [The KJV says: Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:] Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:1-10).

Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:3-14).

Jesus is our High Priest who has entered heaven on our behalf by his own blood shed on the cross.

However, as our High Priest, he has also called us to the obedience that comes from faith – he has anointed us with the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead – and he has ordained us to be his ambassadors in this world and also a royal priesthood under him as the High Priest.

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us (1 Peter 2:912).

Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin which was neither the royal line of Judah nor the priestly line of Levi through Aaron. 

But Paul spoke of his priestly duty in proclaiming the gospel to humanity so that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and be reconciled to God. 

We need to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, keeping our eyes fixed on our King and High Priest so that we too, may become mature in Christ and serve in the royal priesthood with all holiness to God.

I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God (Romans 15:14-17). 

As a royal priesthood, what are we to offer God as an acceptable sacrifice?

We are to offer our bodies upon the altar in perfect obedience to him as Abraham offered his son, Isaac – so that we are no longer controlled by the sinful passions of the former life in flesh, but are led by the power of the Holy Spirit who now lives in us.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:16-21).

When Jesus was crucified and: – With a loud cry, he breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mark 15:37).

Jesus offered his body of flesh in sacrifice as the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. The types and shadows of the Old Covenant had served the illustrative purpose, but the reality had come.

While the earthly temple was still standing, it signified by its various barriers between Jew and Gentile, between priest and Israelite, between high priest and the people – that the way of unity and the way into God’s holy presence had not yet been made known or the way opened. The people’s sins, through their being in the realm of the flesh, kept them separated from the Most Holy God. No flesh will inherit the kingdom of God. Jesus the High Priest has given to us the Holy Spirit though whom we put to death the sinful deeds in the body of flesh and are raised to a new life in the Spirit.

 

The tearing of the curtain of the temple signified that the way had been opened – the veil, Jesus’ body of flesh was torn – on behalf of humanity in the flesh, when he was nailed to the cross. 

As Jesus had said, the flesh counts for nothing.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:5-7).

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

Jesus’ own eternal heavenly glory and majesty was veiled behind human flesh. 

But the way has been opened – and we too, as a royal priesthood are required to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God and be raised to the new life in the Spirit – and it is in this way that we may come into God’s holy presence with a clean conscience. 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:19-25).

As we learn to walk in the Spirit and draw near to God, we are being transformed into the glory of Jesus.

The veil of the external things of the flesh and of the Old Covenant have been removed as we learn to walk in the Spirit.

Jesus, the heavenly man has put aside the flesh – and he is the Spirit of God who tabernacled among us in an earthly body to redeem us and open the way for us to enter his eternal glory.

Whenever people should still try to hold on to the Old Covenant – as many Jews do in their ignorance, they are in fact clinging to a veil which blinds them from the glory of God. But we should begin to reflect God’s glory with ever-increasing glory because of the way opened for us by Jesus the High Priest.

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:12-18).

“Seeing” Him Who is Invisible

Many Jews take pride in the flesh – and they believe that because they are supposedly natural descendants of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob – and that they were entrusted with the very words of God, including the Law given through Moses, that their ancient religion is more authentic than Christianity and that it precedes Christianity. 

You even get movements now within Christianity which claim to be “returning to the Hebrew roots of our faith” by which they actually mean going back to the Law.

However, the Law, including the Priesthood in the order of Aaron, was given as a supervisor to only restrain sin until the coming of the Messiah who would set his people free from the law of sin and death through faith in him – and by doing away with sin in the flesh.

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:23-27).

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all (Romans 4:13-16).

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:15-20).

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel (Hebrews 11:24-28).

Christianity is the faith of Abraham and it actually precedes Judaism and the Law.

Abraham and Moses were anointed with the Spirit of Christ [Messiah], which is what the name “Christian” actually means. But the Spirit of the Messiah had not yet become incarnate in the form and likeness of a human being like us – as was the case when Jesus was born (see commentary by Peter Cohen, referring also to comment by John Stott as this Link to 1 John chapter 4 .

Abraham and Moses were Christians in that their faith was in that they interacted with Jesus before Jesus’ incarnation. Jesus’ incarnation was so that his disciples may see and relate to the invisible God, so that Jesus could eventually say to Philip, when Philip said to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us” – to which Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves” (John 14:1-11).

What do you think – that it is more important to see Jesus in the flesh – or that in not seeing him, we come to know him because he has made himself known to us by living in us through the Holy Spirit whom he has sent to those who believe?

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything (Genesis 14:17-20).

One of the Twelve, Thomas (called “Twin”), was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in His hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe!”

After eight days His disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace to you!”

Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and observe My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Don’t be an unbeliever, but a believer.”

Thomas responded to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed (John 20:24-29).

The world tends to think that “seeing is believing” because humanity in the flesh is blind to the spiritual realm and cannot know or please God without being born again of the Holy Spirit.

The writer to the Hebrews gave us the following exhortation:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).

How do we fix our eyes on Jesus who has ascended into heaven.

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you” (John 16:7-15).

Jesus, as the High Priest is the mediator between God and humanity.

Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant which has been ratified by the shedding of his blood.

And one of the terms of the New Covenant is:

“No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:11-12).

We shall all know the Lord – because, as Paul taught in his letter to the church in Galatia – where some people reverted to the external Old Covenant having started out by the Holy Spirit…: 

But now that you know God—or rather are known by God —how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you (Galatians 4:9-11).

We cannot know God who is holy by having him live in us if we are going to grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing to sin. He lives in us to make us holy.

We know God”? – because he has forgiven our sins and sanctified us so that we are now known by him – no longer trying to hide from his presence because of guilt and shame and nakedness, – he has come to live in us to make himself very intimately known by him – so we may know him.

How are our eyes opened to the spiritual, unseen realm?

Through the new Passover celebration, the bread and wine which symbolises Jesus’ body, through which we commemorate that the High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, gave his body of flesh to be a sin offering, – thereby being done with sin in the flesh. The veil which once blinded us, is removed when we no longer live in the realm of the flesh but now by the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

A veil still blinds the minds of those who remain in the realm of the flesh.

But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Hebrews 9:26-28).

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:5-11).

We have a High Priest who offered his body of flesh in sacrifice for sin. We have a High Priest who instituted a new ceremony through which we commemorate and partake of this sacrifice because we too are told to take up our cross to follow him. How shall we partake of this sacrifice if we intended to still gratify the desires of the flesh rather than to offer it in sacrifice to God? 

Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:16-22).

So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:20-32).

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread (Luke 24:13-35).

The Priest of the Most High God also brought out bread and wine and shared it with Abraham and blessed him – Christianity is the faith of Abraham and we have a High Priest who is heaven – who has given us the Holy Spirit so that we may know him.

As we partake of the “communion”, the bread and wine symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus, we proclaim his death through which he is done with sin by abolishing it on the cross in his body of flesh – and we rejoice that we are raised to a new life by the Holy Spirit.

However, from our Lord Jesus’ last words, we have the complete assurance that we shall celebrate this final redemption of our bodies with the Lord in heaven.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:26-30).

At 13h15, on Friday , 15 May  I had an appointment with Dr. Teichert at which time he informed me that I have stomach cancer and will need to have one third of my stomach and one third of my oesophagus surgically removed. The operation is tentatively scheduled for 23 May 2020. 

I will enter his rest on the seventh day, but I may be taken up to glory.

This following section was written on 20 May 2020 prior to my surgery and will be amended following the success of the operation and my adequate recovery.

 

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12).

I am not a prophet and nor have I had a strong premonition. So the following has been written based entirely upon a “feeling” and perhaps a mind at peace with my situation. I fully accept the possibility that if it is the Lord’s will, I may leave this earthly body so that my spirit may be with Christ. I have been made fully aware that this medical procedure to remove the cancer is fairly high risk. If I survive, I will continue doing what I have been doing – writing words of comfort, rebuke, exhortation as inspired by the Scriptures and the wisdom given by the Holy Spirit.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. 

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. Truly I am your servant, Lord; (Psalm 116:15-16).

I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me (Philippians 1:18-26). 

For the whole duration of our lives in this body of flesh, we as Christians, are given every opportunity to draw nearer to God through carefully keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, through praying continually and by putting to death the earthly nature so that we may truly live as the new humanity, the new creation and as citizens of heaven who are moved to obey Jesus our King through his Spirit living within us. We may indeed stumble and then confess our sins and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Jesus taught that we could not be his disciples unless we deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow him by sharing in his sufferings. The writer to the Hebrews wrote the following:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! (Hebrews 12:1-9).

Virtually all of my articles written for The New Humanity Project focus on Paul’s teaching in Romans chapter 8 – summarised in words something like this, “Through the Holy Spirit working in us, we learn to put to death the former life of the flesh, which was in bondage to sin, so that we may be raised to a completely new life by the power of the Holy Spirit”.

Paul taught that the way by which we live a new life free from sin is through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us – who no longer have our minds controlled by the flesh and its desires:

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:5-17).

I have applied this to my own life. I have not yet resisted sin to the point of shedding my own blood, in other words I have not yet remained faithful to the point of death – perhaps even the death of a martyr.

Sickness, disease and generally a frail body as we age – are reminders that the mortal body in which we live is figuratively like that of a makeshift tent – (tabernacle) in which we live during our sojourn of faith in this present world. As the apostle Peter wrote, (for the Lord had told him that he would eventually die as a martyr on account of his faithfulness to Jesus.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things (2 Peter 1:12-15).

We don’t know when or how we might die. King Hezekiah became ill and the the Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to tell him to get his house in order for he was about to die. Hezekiah wept bitterly and the Lord immediately told Isaiah to go back and tell him that the Lord would grant him another fifteen years. I have resolved to study the Scriptures and devote myself to writing articles to share the insights I have gained over the last forty two year or so as a Christian. I live or die for the glory of the Lord. If I should die during this surgical procedure or days, or months or years later – I know that unless the Lord comes very soon I will probably depart from the tent of this mortal body and I have no fear or regrets whatsoever – other than leaving my wife, children and grandchildren in very uncertain times but I entrust them completely to the care of our father who is in heaven.

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”

Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David’” (2 Kings 20:1-6).

We know from the account of Job – that Job and all of his friends tried to find a reason for his suffering as a righteous person – and that Satan had inflicted him even with disease to test his steadfast faithfulness to God.

No disease may come upon us unless God allows it for whatever reason. I have been inflicted with cancer of the stomach and if not removed miraculously by the hand of God, or by the skill of a surgeon, the swelling will eventually completely block my oesophagus which will result in a drawn out process of immense suffering without mounting medical bills.

The teaching from Romans chapter 8 through which we are to demonstrate genuine faithful to Jesus by putting to death the former life controlled by the flesh so as to live the new life in the power of the Holy Spirit, was foreshadowed with Abraham and his son of the promise, Isaac, who was an illustration of Jesus, the Son of God. Abraham was told by God to offer Isaac as a human sacrifice to God to prove Abraham’s faithfulness to God – a test of faithfulness quite different from that of Job.

God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son , your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you. ”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you. ”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:1-12).

Abraham had already bound Isaac and told him to lay upon the altar and Abraham had raised the knife – before the Lord provided a ram in Isaac’s place which typified the fact that God gave his one and only Son, Jesus, to be offered as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity. 

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).

There remains only one sin which is not atoned for by Jesus’ blood shed upon the cross – and it is the sin of pride, contempt and arrogance that makes a mockery of Jesus’ death which rejects the Holy Spirit of grace and mercy.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:26-31).

Jesus died for our sins – and he died to remove our fear of death. However, Jesus did not die so that we may not die. On the contrary, he died so that we too may take up our cross and remain faithful to him even to the point of death no longer fearing those who may kill this body of flesh which we are ourselves to count as crucified and buried with Christ. Jesus did not die so that we would remain slaves to sin so that we continue sinning as we did before we came to know the truth.

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister (1 John 3:4-10).

Jesus is our High Priest who first offered his own body. We too, are called into a royal priesthood. The offering we are called to make is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices – much like Isaac was offered. However, when we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, it means that we no longer live as we please, satisfying the desires of the sinful flesh, but we now learn to walk as we are led by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (Galatians 5:16-26).

I am persuaded that I will not die of cancer of the stomach – for I have resolved to have it surgically removed and I have given consent to a skilled surgeon to perform this risky procedure. I will literally be laid upon the operating table and be cut by the surgeon’s knife – and if the Lord takes my spirit to be with him in that procedure I am confident that I have indeed remained faithful and resisted sin – even to the point of shedding my blood, not as a martyr, but in deep and confident trust in Jesus the High Priest and our heavenly Father. Whether I live longer or die in this procedure, I give glory and praise to God for all that he blessed me with and the assurance through the Holy Spirit of eternal life.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you (2 Corinthians 4:1-12). 

We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made and our bodies are perfectly designed by God to serve a purpose of being the perishable seed into which he sows the imperishable Seed, the Word of Christ, for those who would inherit eternal life.

The skill of the surgeon is perhaps greater than the skill of a builder of tents, but his skill is still performed on the physical tent in which our spirits live.

When the flesh is cut and the blood is shed – it is not improper to suggest that the jar of clay is broken so that we may be taken up to glory in God’s presence.

My life will be placed in the hand of the surgeon, but only after my life had already been placed in God’s mighty hand for more than forty years. May God’s perfect will prevail as my helpless frail body lies on the operating table – and my the Name of God be praised and glorified – even should I be taken up in glory to the “disappointment”of the skilled surgeon.

Although this is a rather unusual and strange proposition, but, if I should be taken up to glory, it would be to God’s glory if Konrad Teichert, the specialist surgeon, perhaps witnesses a glimpse of God’s glorious light as the jar of clay is broken.

May God’s holy presence sustain Gill, Tim, Sarah, Gabi, Rachie and Becky and may God’s Spirit fill them with the perfect peace that indeed passes all human understanding and which sustains us through trials, tears and sadness, but also in moments of joy and laughter.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants (Psalm 116:2).

A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart (Ecclesiastes 7:1-2).

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, and the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7).

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