Ephesians 6:17; The sword of the Spirit – the weight of glory.
Sunday June 12, 2022
Love wisdom. It is better than wealth, and if you love it, you will accept its correction with joy in the pursuit of more of it. Joy, therefore, begets hope; the hope and confidence that more wisdom awaits you and life will be lived in the eternal counsel of divine purpose. “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:2-3). The word of God, in this way, will change our perspective from earth to heaven – beholding the glory of God in time.
“Walk in a manner worthy,” (Eph 4:1; Col 1:10) i.e., was with the weight of God’s glory upon you.
There is a weight to God’s glory. The word “worthy” literally means “weight.” “Walk in a manner worthy,” i.e., walk with the weight of the glory of God upon you. The weight of God’s glory is that we cannot behold it without submission of our will to His. When we do, life becomes God and He flows into everything else. Would we think that if anyone other than Moses, say a secret idol worshipper in Israel, had asked God to show them His glory that God would have actually done so as He did with faithful Moses? The deeper question is; would the other have actually cared to see it as strongly as Moses did?
I have a bit more on seeing God in the word of God before we get to the specifics concerning the sword of the Spirit. I am convinced that God wants us to understand what the word of God is for so that we use it wisely.
Wisdom gotten was wisdom loved.
“I love those who love me;
And those who diligently seek me will find me.”
God is telling us that He is after our love and devotion, and that above any other thing or person. “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross (“daily,” Luk 9:23) and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it” (Mat 10:37-39). To love Him is to love life, not the life of self-gratification, but also not the life of ascetic unhappiness. It turns out that all of us being born in Adam, though we have lived life for some time, don’t know much about it. God tells us that human life is Christ.
Human life = Christ.
God is asking every person, “Do you want to know and see life? I have written it in My word. And when you discover it, I give you the joy of showing it to others.”
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
So many are fooling about with riches, alcohol and drugs, sex, and the like, when these things pretend to be life and are therefore made into dangerous idols.
Lady Wisdom in Proverbs addresses this. For most people, riches are hard to get. You may work extremely hard in labor, a skill, or in academia, and still not achieve many riches. Wisdom, on the other hand, always pays off. If you diligently seek wisdom, you will have her.
Wisdom is better than material wealth.
“Riches and honor are with me,
Enduring wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold,
And my yield than choicest silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
In the midst of the paths of justice,
21 To endow those who love me with wealth,
That I may fill their treasuries.”
I should add that wisdom (Proverbs and Ecclesiastes) tells us to work hard at all we do. Some like to take truths such as this; that the hard worker is not guaranteed riches, and over generalize it to justify their own laziness. Usually it is youth that does this, though it is not absent from older people. God never teaches fatalism.
What are riches to us? We see wealth as security, entertainment, self-satisfaction from consistently buying new things, perhaps being envied – we imagine the material will satisfy our immaterial souls. But mankind hopes the same from alcohol and drugs, illicit sex, power, and even marriage, family, and career. Without submission to God and gaining His wisdom, they all eventually turn into a perverted (crooked) idolatry. With God we do not reject these things, but God fills them as He does us, and they are no longer crooked.
By faith we have to conclude, before we have either riches or wisdom, that wisdom is far better to possess, for with her is real wealth. If we have wealth and not wisdom, God doesn’t tell us to give our wealth away, unless of course it is hindering our calling (Paul for example), but the wealthy are to be gracious and not conceited, and just like the non-wealthy, diligently seek wisdom which is far better.
“Now therefore, O sons, listen to me,
For blessed are they who keep my ways.
33 Heed instruction and be wise,
And do not neglect it.
34 Blessed is the man who listens to me,
Watching daily at my gates,
Waiting at my doorposts.
35 For he who finds me finds life,
And obtains favor from the Lord.
36 But he who sins against me injures himself;
All those who hate me love death.”
We saw last time that “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
Keeping the ways of God means being reproved and corrected - and changing.
The word of God opens us up and reveals to us the condition of our inner selves. The question we raised was as to what we will do with that report? Do we want to be taught, reproved, corrected, and trained? Do we actually want to hear from God what is wrong in our thinking so that we can change it? To change is to love wisdom enough that we want more of it than we do of the thing we need to change.
He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
8 Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you,
Reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself,
And if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
The fear of the Lord is a wonderful condition to understand. It has many aspects, and here it is a fear of not conforming and changing to His way of everything.
“If Christianity could tell me no more of the far-off land than my own temperament led me to surmise already, then Christianity would be no higher than myself. If it has mor to give me, I expect it to be less immediately attractive than “my own stuff.” … If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know.” [C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory]
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
But he who hates reproof is stupid.
[Plantinga] “In several of his writings the Christian author C.S. Lewis explores this phenomenon of human longing or yearning – what the Germans call Sehnsucht (ZANE-zoocht), a word with strong overtones of seeking and searching. In thinking about Sehnsucht, Lewis observes that when we have it, we are seeking union with something from which we are separated. For example, we want to be reunited with a happy time or a lovely place or a good friend. We look at a green valley and want to crawl under its covers. We think of a happy home and want to dwell in its center. We keep wanting to “get back” or to “get in.”
What’s remarkable is that these longings are unfulfillable. We cannot merge with the music we love. Nor can we climb inside nature. Nature may delight us beyond telling, as Lewis says, but she cannot open her arm to receive us. The same is true of future situations in our lives. We may want a good career or a family or a particular kind of life, and these things may come to us. But if so, they will not fill all our niches because we want more than these things can give. Even if we fall deeply in love and marry another human being, we discover that our spiritual and sexual oneness isn’t final. It’s wonderful, but not final. It might even be as good as human oneness can be, but something in us keeps saying “not this” or “still beyond.” Nor can we go back into our past and steep ourselves in its joys. For one thing, some of its joys weren’t as good as we think. (It’s characteristically human, said Mark Twain, to remember a lot of things that never happened.) [slide] Ecc 7:10
Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?" For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. In any case, we cannot go back. Nostalgia is a yearning for what is over now. Places change. People change.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” [C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory]
The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time, but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of the world,” as J.R.R. Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is “higher up” and “further back.” [Cornelius Plantinga, Engaging God’s World]
I appreciate that Plantinga does not go the way of some and conclude that all earthly pleasures be minimized or even vilified. Christianity is not asceticism. The joys of life are pointers to the ultimate joy of God, but we never leave the temporal joys while we are in this world. There is no marriage in heaven, but marriage has a great role in the present age. This is what Lewis calls the weight of glory.
The weight of glory: the burden upon each of us to behold God’s glory despite the flesh, the world, and the devil.
It is the burden upon every one of us to behold the glory of God while we live and walk in a dark world. It demands wisdom from the word of God.
Paul speaks of the veil that Moses would place over his face in order to hide the glory that shone from his face after meeting and speaking with God. His shining face frightened and bewildered the Israelites and eventually it faded.
For if the ministry of condemnation [Mosaic Law] has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
12 Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech [revealing God’s glory], 13 and are not as Moses, who used to put a veil over his face that the sons of Israel might not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
The reason that glory is a weight (the literal meaning of the word “worthy”) is that we cannot behold God and at the same time behold some sin or selfishness or ungodly thing. It is also true that avoiding certain things, like selfishness say, will not allow our eyes to gaze upon it either. We must submit in not doing and doing, like loving others for instance, in order to behold Him. It is easy to look at something, but it is more difficult to look intently and not be distracted when many things are around you for the purpose of distracting you.
Don’t replace the veil with something else temporal, sinful, finite, even good.