We have all had human relationships that we struggle with. It appears life is not without a good deal of conflicts. The conflicts that we can control usually emanate from within ourselves. We can possibly change our behavior, especially with God’s help and grace. But can we really change who we are?
Jesus taught in his Parable of the Good Sower that there were different types of ground. Jesus went into some detail about this when asked to interpret this Parable by his own disciples. He described the different places or types of soil that the Sower or farmer placed seed in. The only ground that yielded favorably was the good ground which Jesus said (Luke 8:15; implied in Matthew 13:19), was a honest and good heart.
The ability to change or be transformed by the good seed of God’s Word is dependent on the type of ground that we possess. For instance, if we are wayside ground, then the Word sown in our hearts is not understood and the Wicked One snatches it away.
Jesus knew all about the ground that he was sowing to. He knew that a lot of seed, or God’s Word spoken through him, would go on poor ground. This poor ground is alluded to in the Gospel of John when it states: “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, for he knew all men. And needed not that any should testify of man: for Jesus knew what was in man” (John 2:2:24-25).
Jesus taught frequently along these lines. He called his people: his Sheep; the Little Flock; the Elect, the “little ones,” those that kept his commandments, and so on. He said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Jesus taught that Christianity was a minority religion or faith.
It was never meant for the majority of the masses.
But Jesus mandated that everyone had an opportunity to truly serve God… but many would not out of free will and rebellion. An excellent example of this was the Rich Young Ruler. He did not want to do what Jesus commanded. He could not put his riches and then, himself, on God’s altar as a sacrifice to be raised in “newness of life,” and then, “follow him” to have riches in the Kingdom.
The Rich Young Ruler, well, he “had to have things.” This implies an immediate gratification of the comfort and luxury of having such riches… such cannot be put off to a future Kingdom.
Jesus then remarked afterwards when the Young Ruler went “away sorrowfully,” that materialism and possessions were a great detriment to entering the Kingdom of God… so much so, it was like a camel entering the “eye of an needle.”
This phrase, of course, is a Hebraism. An “eye of an needle” was not literal. It was a very small opening in the walls of the city in which an individual, usually one at a time, could pass through inside. These apertures were created to avoid going through the main gates in which folks could be “taxed” on whatever wares that they brought into the city by the Roman tax authorities, the publicans. The “Rich Men” were ladened down with riches and wares as like a camel. No camel could enter into these small apertures.
Jesus referred also to salvation, not only as a small aperture, but a “narrow gate.” Those who strove mightily with their flesh or human nature, could at last, achieve redemption in which they could enter in at the “strait” or narrow “gate.”
In life, we frequently have relationships with those of differing grounds. In the opening pages of the Bible, we read of a relationship that was very strained… the relationship between Cain and Abel.
Cain had his own ideas of what constituted salvation. Cain did not like the idea of a blood sacrifice… he thought the first fruits of the harvest of his field were just fine. Abel feared God however, and remembered that God required, as in the type earlier in the Book of Genesis, to bring a blood sacrifice.
You have to see the differences here: both were religious men. However, one brought what was convenient for him; the other brought what God wanted. Cain got angry when God rejected his offering. Cain got angrier when God accepted Abel’s sacrifice. Cain didn’t blame God yet… he blamed Abel. His jealousy of Abel became so great that it became the basis of the crime of murder.
This was not differences between the two; this was not a misunderstanding. This was not division. This was enmity. The sort of enmity that was outlined in Genesis 3:15. It is a matter of “seeds” according to this verse. This enmity is based on envy, spiritual jealousy and vainglory, or competition.
The other thing that God wanted though besides Cain acknowledging his guilt, was for Cain to separate himself. Cain was to go to live in the Land of Nod. He became a vagabond and a fugitive. God wanted Cain’s progeny to be separate from the progeny of Seth, who was “appointed” to replace Abel. This they were, until, eventually the sons of Seth, aka, “the sons of God,” apostatized from their lofty calling and intermarried with the seed of Cain. This “mixing” proved to be undoing of the line of Seth and the Antediluvian World. They all became the seed of Cain. This created unparalleled wickedness in the world with the emergence of the Nephilim: a race of giants and other noteworthies, in which this particular “giant” DNA survived the Flood, notably through Ham. Some traces of this still remain today as in the case of former baseball player Alfonso Alfonseca, who had six fingers: the same, as the Nephilim giant Goliath had.
It was a case of good “seed,” gone bad.
As Christians, sometimes we experience extreme difficulties with some individuals. This conflict is shown in the Bible many times. You have not only Cain and Abel, but Jacob and Esau, David and Saul,, Mordecai and Haman. You have the Christ child and Herod; Judas and Simon Peter; John the Baptist and Herod, in the New Testament.
These conflicts cannot be avoided. It is the spiritual law of enmity between the seeds. Every example that I just gave in the preceding paragraph… is the result of enmity between those that had the favor of God, and those who wanted it… but on their terms, not God’s.
What is the Christian supposed to do with such a dilemma once they discern that such differences, divisions, variance is not based on carnality, which Paul stated was the case of superficial division, but on the enmity of the Serpent Mind which is far more a threat than some carnal thoughts or impulses?
Just as in the Bible accounts, we find that David would not take Saul’s life although Saul hunted David to destroy him. We see that Simon Peter forebeared with Judas. Jacob embraced Esau. John the Baptist spoke favorably to Herod.
These examples suggest that we certainly practice the element of forgiveness. How many times? Well, Peter asked this same question in reference to his difficulties with Judas Iscariot. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often do I have to forgive a believer who wrongs me? Seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Jesus replied to forgive his brother an infinitesimal number, in this case, seventy times seven, or beyond counting.
But at some point, you may have to discern that there is much more than differences, variances, or divisions going on… and determine that there is an underlying and unavoidable enmity.
You still have to forgive… Forgive from the heart.
Some folks think that to forgive is to forget. That would be a nice thought, if not presumptuous. Sometimes God does make us to forget hurts, wrongs, and injuries. This is a spiritual healing that God can do. Other times, the hurt remains. So the process of forgiveness has to go on, particularly when these hurts come to the surface again, or are a constant vexation because we are forced to be around the person that is the basis of such. We need to remember these hurts at times, to avoid being hurt again. I am sure that whenever Jesus looks at the scars in his hands, the deep marks on his back, and the remains of the gash in his side, that he recalls such wounds as being “given in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6). Yes, these are the words that Jesus will confess to those that inquire of his injuries when the Kingdom comes.
No, Jesus will not forget.
But he forgave.
However, God didn’t and God won’t. But that is God. He is perfect.
When the hurt, injury, and the wounds become so often and acute, then in addition to forgiveness, we must practice a form of spiritual survival. This is called separation. To be able to overcome this evil, like Cain, the original seed of the Serpent (Luke 8:44), we must have him separate from us. Somebody has to go to the “land of Nod.”
Paul said the same. He told the Roman fellowship to, “I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
Indeed, Paul later tells Titus that, “A man that is divisive after the first and second admonition reject.”
This “marking” or rejection is just separation. If it occurs, it must be done in the right spirit. You cannot make judgments altogether. You never know if God will extend mercy to such a person after all. Hence, you seldom, if ever, “burn bridges” in your relationships.
When you attain a measure of Christian maturity, then you will acknowledge what I am saying.
When you attain a measure of Christian maturity, you will also learn how to “remit and retain sin,” not as an individual, but as a priest called unto God.
However, this latter thought is a topic for another day.
Meanwhile, be you perfect as your Heavenly Father is….Forgive, and if you have to, be separate.
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2014. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.