Doug Wilson, Sam Storms, John Piper, Jim Hamilton discuss eschatology:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26, And Can it Be, Apollyon, Depression, despair, Deuteronomy 7:17–19, Deuteronomy 8:10-18., emotions, Exodus 13:3, Faithful Feelings, Grace, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, Hope, Isaiah 48:5–7, John Bunyan, John Piper, Jonah 2:7, Memory, Pilgrim's Progress, Prayer, Preach to yourself, Psalm 119:55, Psalm 23:3-4, Psalm 42, Psalm 42:5, Psalm 43, Revelatinon 5:11-14, Romans 12:15, Romans 12:2, Romans 8:24-25, Spiritual Depression, The Soul's Conflict With Itself
COUNSELING PROBLEMS AND BIBLICAL CHANGE
BIBLICAL SOLUTIONS FOR DEPRESSION, PART FOUR
DEPRESSION AND MEMORY
Memory is a curious thing when it comes to depression: Depression has the effect of muddling up our memory. When a depressed person attempts to remember things going on in the recent past, they tend make mistakes.
Yet, depression also feeds upon memory. Emily Dickinson wrote a poem which begins, “Remorse is memory awake”. In the final stanza she writes
Remorse is cureless,—the disease
Not even God can heal;
For ’t is His institution,—
The complement of hell.
A 14th Century book from England is entitled Ayenbite of Inwyt – the Again-bite of In-wit [one’s inner thoughts]. One of the great pains of life is not our mere present circumstances, but our memory of how we came to this place.
For example, imagine a man in living alone in an apartment in Hollywood. If the man had recently immigrated from rural Laos, the apartment and the city might seem a wonder and joy.
Now consider another man: Six months earlier he had been married and living in Bell Aire. However, through a series of foolish and wicked choices he now finds himself divorced and living in an apartment in Hollywood.
John Piper in a sermon Romans 12:9 discusses the fact that Scripture often calls us to affections, emotions, responses which are contrary to how we actually feel.
But if it is so important and yet so hard, how shall we respond? Suppose you hear the command of Jesus this morning: Love the brothers and sisters at Bethlehem with tender affection. Open your heart wide to them. Feel a longing for them and joy in them. And suppose you can think of several people that you do not feel that way about. They have gossiped about you or snubbed you or let you down. And you say, “I hear you Lord. And I submit to the rightness of your command. But you see me through and through. I do not feel affection for him. My battle is just trying not to hate. But I yield. You have right to call me to this. I embrace the goodness and the authority of your call. I want to obey.” Now what do you do?
As a good pastor, he does not merely set out the command, but also follows the Scriptural model of showing how one moves from the current state to that which God calls (this is a point at which many preachers would do well to study counseling — not to avoid exegeting and expositing, but rather to exposit more faithfully, more consistently with the Scripture. God no where gives commands without giving us help to fulfill the command).
First, we must pray: Since God is asking for a supernatural (and thus not an automatic response), we need supernatural assistance. Pray that “Holy Spirit would move in power on your heart and work the miracle that neither you nor I can work on our own.”
Second, change the way that we think — which is a great promise of the New Covenant. Our emotions will rightly follow when we focus on eternal truths.
Third, remember that Christian love grows over time.
Fourth, “don’t be a relational fatalist”. Know that nothing is impossible for God.
You’ll find the entire sermon here
The worm finds them sweet
Paton had courage to overcome the criticism he received from respected elders for going to the New Hebrides. A certain Mr. Dickson exploded, “The cannibals! You will be eaten by can- nibals!” The memory of Williams and Harris on Erromanga was only nineteen years old. But to this Paton responded:
Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serv- ing and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.
— John Piper, Filling Up The Affliction of Christ, John Paton, p. 58.
THE CONQUEROR WORM
By Edgar Allan Poe
Lo! ’t is a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.
Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly—
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
That motley drama—oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
And Horror the soul of the plot.
But see, amid the mimic rout,
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.
Out—out are the lights—out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.
That’s what we have emphasized so far in saying that marriage is based on God’s grace toward us. But now I want to emphasize another truth about grace: It not only gives power to endure being sinned against, it also gives power to stop sinning.
In all our emphasis on forgiving and forbearing, you might get the impression that none of our sinful traits or our annoying idiosyncrasies ever change—or ever should change. So all we can do is forgive and forbear. But what I want to try to show from Scripture now is that God gives grace not only to forgive and to forbear, but also to change, so that less forgiving and forbearing is needed. That too is a gift of grace. Grace is not just the power to return good for evil; it is also the power to do less evil—even power to be less bothersome. Grace makes you want to change for the glory of Christ and for the joy of your spouse. And grace is the power to do it.
This Momentary Marriage
“Metaphysics and epistemology are correlative; the nature of God determines His knowability” (Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 19). Part of what may constitute “evidence” for a proposition depends upon the nature of the proposition.
Let us say we wish to determine whether X is a good baseball player. X’s preference for a flavor of ice cream does nothing to reveal his skill at baseball. If wish to look for evidence of a bird, a compass will likely provide no useful information.
When it comes to the matter of God’s existence, the nature of evidence will correlate to the nature of God. Thus, when someone accepts or denies “evidence” concerning God they have already committed to a certain concept of God.
For example, one a particular day it rains. One person denies that such rain could possibly provide any evidence of God’s existence. Fair enough. But, what should it look like if God were to make it rain? Would rain only be evidence of God if it were to occur contrary to the “normal course” of events? You see, the god or God found or denied depend upon one’s presuppositions. (Now, those presuppositions are subject to interaction with perception. However, perception does not occur in a “neutral” space. )
(John Piper has a delightful meditation on how rain shows evidence of God — and should be a profound ground for our thankfulness. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/the-great-work-of-god-rain)
When someone denies the physical world provides any evidence of God, that person is denying God’s existence but rather denies a god who the denier presumes to existence.
Let us say you meet someone at college — a new classmate. Your classmate claims to have a girlfriend — but the girlfriend lives in his hometown. You deny the girlfriend’s existence and say, “If she were your girlfriend, she would live here. Therefore, since this woman is not here, she is not your girlfriend.”
When one denies God’s existence on the ground that the universe is regular in its operation, one has not denied the God asserted in the Bible. The God of the Bible provides order and law. The God of the Bible is Lord of all creation and thus orders and controls the physical universe “without losing His divinity” (Frame, 20).
Frame explains that the God the Bible, the Lord of creation does not merely control the universe, He also has authority over the creation. Therefore, all valuations of the universe necessarily entail God’s existence.
Moreover, God is present [the third aspect of lordship identified by Frame] in the universe (as a third aspect of being Lord). Therefore, “all reality reveals God” (Frame, 20). “God is unavoidably close to His creation. We are involved with Him all the time” (Frame, 17).
Thus, “The agnostic argument, …presupposes a non-biblical concept of God. If God is who Scripture says He is, there are no barriers to knowing Him” (Frame, 20).
Authentic Christianity, Biblical Counseling, covenant love, John Owen, John Piper, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, New Bible Dictionary, Of Communion With the Father Son and Holy Spirit, Piper, Puritan, Rom. 2:15, Romans 1:18, shame, This Momentary Marriage
Now shame is a scar which runs through the soul of every woman and man, for sin and the law of God condemning that sin are written on the heart of every-one (Rom. 2:15). Calvin writing on Genesis 3:7 writes of the “cold and faint knowledge of sin”
In short, the cold and faint knowledge of sin, which is inherent in the minds of men, is here described by Moses, in order that they may be rendered inexcusable.
It must be absolutely understood that sin, the subjective sense of guilt and defilement which derives from sin is the basis of all shame – shame before God and shame before human beings:
The biblical concept of shame is basically that of the mental state of humiliation due to sin, and to departure from the law of God, which brings obloquy and rejection by both God and man.
p.w, “Shame” In , in New Bible Dictionary, ed. D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard et al., 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 1085.
We sometimes tie shame especially to matters involving sexuality. And while we often feel shame most painfully around questions of sexuality and sin, sexuality is not the least itself a basis for shame; rather it is sin mixed with sexuality which leads to sin. The Bible passionately celebrates the beauty of sexuality and sexual union between a husband and wife (Gen. 2:21-25; Song of Solomon).
John Piper in his wonderful book This Momentary Marriage ties the matter of shame to the matter of covenant love:
Consider a second possibility for why they are naked and not ashamed. My suggestion is that the emphasis falls not on their freedom from physical imperfection, but on the fullness of covenant love. In other words, I can be free from shame for two conceivable reasons: One conceivable (but unreal) reason is that I am perfect and have nothing to be ashamed of. The other reason I could be free from shame is that even though I am imperfect, I have no fear of being disapproved by my spouse.
The first way to be shame-free is to be perfect; the second way to be shame-free is based on the gracious nature of covenant love. In the first case, there is no shame because we’re flawless. In the second case, there is no shame because covenant love covers a multitude of flaws (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Cor. 13:6).
The division caused by sin created the basis for shame to enter in. The breakdown of the relationship between God and man (and thus between human being and human being) creates the basis for shame. Shame comes in when true covenant love – between God and us — has left the room.
Shame is the valuation that one is wrong, dirty, defiled. It is the reception of a judgment. As human beings we all stand under the judgment of God. As Paul explains, the wrath of God – God’s judgment against sin – is revealed and known (Rom. 1:18). We know ourselves to be wrong before God.
What then of shame before human beings? It is merely the public recognition of what we know to be true before God. When Adam and Eve hid, they hid from God – and from one-another. Their blameshifting and excuses merely proceeded from the sin and shame before God. Knowing ourselves to be wrong before God (that cold faint knowledge of sin), we know that we are wrong.
Thus, the accusations of other human beings, their condemnation and rebuke ring true because they are true. We are wicked and sinful and thus we should be ashamed.
It is this space in which Christ comes:
How do you explain the persistence of the Christian church? Men and women would have ruined her long ago. Look at the heresies that have come in. Look at the false teaching that has had to be cleared out. Look how people put organizations in the place of the living Christ. See how the church has become an institution, dead and filled with pomp and power, having silver and gold but no spiritual authority. See how she has become political. Ah, people would have destroyed her long since. There is only one reason she still persists: It is this living Christ. Throughout the centuries He has taken hold of men and women—lame, hopeless, impotent, helpless in sin and iniquity and shame—and lifted them up and brought revival and authority and power. So, on goes the church.
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, vol. 1, Authentic Christianity, 1st U.S. ed., Studies in the Book of Acts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2000), 248.
Once an individual becomes addicted to sex, he enters into a vicious cycle of self-destruction and degradation. It appears that the more compulsive or perverted his sexual behavior is, the harsher society is in labeling and judging him because of it. Consequently, his whole life is consumed with guilt and shame. This is especially true of those persons who come from a Christian background or who are actively involved in their local church. As time progresses, many things begin to happen in the sex addict’s life. His sense of confidence and self-worth continually diminish, and the emptiness inside of him is magnified. As a result, he begins an intense and desperate search to fill this void in his life. Since sex has been his personal elixir to which he has turned during previous times of despair, just as a drunk turns to his liquor bottle, the sex addict will pursue the object(s) of his desire. Unfortunately, after fleeing to sex to find comfort or simply a “quick-fix,” he only manages to heap more shame and despair upon himself—the pit becomes deeper, the darkness even blacker.
Steve Gallagher, At The Altar Of Sexual Idolatry (Dry Ridge, KY: Pure Life Ministries, 2000), 24.
1 Corinthians, A.B. Bruce, Ante-Nicene, Biblical Counseling, Church History, Jesus, John Calvin, John Piper, Luke, Mark, marriage, Matthew, money, Piper, politics, Renunciation, Self-denial, Self-Examination, Self-Sacrifice, The Training of the Twelve, voting, Wealth
The fifth and final reason is perhaps most important: Bruce writes:
This theory, then, is in the first place based on an erroneous assumption–viz., that abstinence from things lawful is intrinsically a higher sort of virtue than temperance in the use of them. This is not true. Abstinence is the virtue of the weak, temperance is the virtue of the strong. Abstinence is certainly the safer way for those who are prone to inordinate affection, but it purchases safety at the expense of moral culture; for it removes us from those temptations connected with family relationships and earthly possessions, through which character, while it may be imperilled, is at the same time developed and strengthened. Abstinence is also inferior to temperance in healthiness of tone. It tends inevitably to morbidity, distortion, exaggeration. The ascetic virtues were wont to be called by their admirers angelic. They are certainly angelic in the negative sense of being unnatural and inhuman. Ascetic abstinence is the ghost or disembodied spirit of morality, while temperance is its soul, embodied in a genuine human life transacted amid earthly relations, occupations, and enjoyments. Abstinence is even inferior to temperance in respect to what seems its strong point–self-sacrifice. There is something morally sublime, doubtless, in the spectacle of a man of wealth, birth, high office, and happy domestic condition, leaving rank, riches, office, wife, children, behind, and going away to the deserts of Sinai and Egypt to spend his days as a monk or anchoret.[16.12 The stern resolution, the absolute mastery of the will over the natural affections, exhibited in such conduct, is very imposing. Yet how poor, after all, is such a character compared with Abraham, the father of the faithful, and model of temperance and singleness of mind; who could use the world, of which he had a large portion, without abusing it; who kept his wealth and state, and yet never became their slave, and was ready at God’s command to part with his friends and his native land, and even with an only son! So to live, serving ourselves heir to all things, yet maintaining unimpaired our spiritual freedom; enjoying life, yet ready at the call of duty to sacrifice life’s dearest enjoyments: this is true Christian virtue, the higher Christian life for those who would be perfect. Let us have many Abrahams so living among our men of wealth, and there is no fear of the church going back to the Middle Ages. Only when the rich, as a class, are luxurious, vain, selfish, and proud, is there a danger of the tenet gaining credence among the serious, that there is no possibility of living a truly Christian life except by parting with property altogether.
Although not quoted by Bruce, this understanding is more consistent with the remainder of Scripture and in particular apostolic teaching. Paul will help us here. First Paul living in the state one was called:
17 Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was anyone at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was anyone at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. 21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. 1 Corinthians 7:17–24 (ESV)
Paul then goes onto explain how one is to live in relationship to one’s life and possessions:
29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:29–31 (ESV)
Calvin explains this passage:
As though they had none. All things that are connected with the enjoyment of the present life are sacred gifts of God, but we pollute them when we abuse them. If the reason is asked, we shall find it to be this, that we always dream of continuance in the world, for it is owing to this that those things which ought to be helps in passing through it become hindrances to hold us fast. Hence, it is not without good reason, that the Apostle, with the view of arousing us from this stupidity, calls us to consider the shortness of this life, and infers from this, that we ought to use all the things of this world, as if we did not use them. For the man who considers that he is a stranger in the world uses the things of this world as if they were another’s — that is, as things that are lent us for a single day. The sum is this, that the mind of a Christian ought not to be taken up with earthly things, or to repose in them; for we ought to live as if we were every moment about to depart from this life. By weeping and rejoicing, he means adversity and prosperity; for it is customary to denote causes by their effects. The Apostle, however, does not here command Christians to part with their possessions, but simply requires that their minds be not engrossed in their possessions.
John Calvin, 1 Corinthians, electronic ed., Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), 1 Co 7:29. The fault lies not in the things but in our relationship to the things. This is, of course, a great element of the book of Ecclesiastes.
John Piper gives an interesting political application:
Christians should deal with the world. This world is here to be used. Dealt with. There is no avoiding it. Not to deal with it is to deal with it that way. Not to weed your garden is to cultivate a weedy garden. Not to wear a coat in Minnesota is to freeze—to deal with the cold that way. Not to stop when the light is red is to spend your money on fines or hospital bills and deal with the world that way. We must deal with the world.
But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention. We don’t ascribe to the world the greatest status. There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world. We use the world without offering it our whole soul. We may work with all our might when dealing with the world, but the full passions of our heart will be attached to something higher—Godward purposes. We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.
So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.
By all means vote. But remember: “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
Biblical Sexuality and the Knowledge of God
(I will be teaching on biblical sexuality at this conference http://bcdasocal.org/training/fall-2012-conference. My recent notes on suffering and these on sexuality are part of my study on the issues)
We can know things by direct experience, and we can know things by analogy. For example, let us say that someone spoke to you of Zuma beach in California. Let us also say that you have never been to California, but you have been Florida. One could say that Zuma beach is like Daytona beach. You could take your experience of Daytona beach and begin to imagine Zuma beach, by using the analogy of thing to understand the other.
Such analogies are necessary for human beings to understand God. God uses many anthropomorphisms to explain himself. An anthropomorphism is a figure of speech in which God speaks as if he were a human being: For instance, God speaks of his hand and arm (Jer. 32:21). Now, God being spirit (John 4:24) and thus has no “arm”. The figure of speech, God’s arm, is given to help us understand what God has done. We look at our own arm, and we understand how our arm functions and we get a glimpse of God.
We are not eternal uncreated spirits, we are human beings. Thus, without God providing analogies in our life (like arms and eyes), we would be unable to understand a great deal of what God has said. It would be like trying to imagine the beach and having never seen even a pond of water.
Marriage and sexual passion are one great element of God’s analogies in this world. God did not need to create sexual passion and desire to ensure the propagation of human life. Nature demonstrates that sexual reproduction need not entail passion or emotional desire. Why then would God create such a thing?
At one level, sexual passion has been the fount of extraordinary woe for human life. Sexual disruption runs through the biblical narrative as a deep and wide pit into which men as godly as David fall (2 Sam. 11). Paul lists out the destruction which sin brings to the human being, and sexual disintegration plays a starring role (Rom. 1:26-27). Why would God let such a passion free among human beings especially since we don’t “need” it.
John Piper in his first sermon on “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” writes
Therefore, I say again: God created us in his image, male and female, with personhood and sexual passions so that when he comes to us in this world there would be these powerful words and images to describe the promises and the pleasures of our covenant relationship with him through Christ.
God made us powerfully sexual so that he would be more deeply knowable. We were given the power to know each other sexually so that we might have some hint of what it will be like to know Christ supremely.
Human sexuality creates an analogy to understand God. Just as knowing Daytona beach gives you a glimpse of Zuma, so human love creates an analogy for the divine love of God.
Think of the many times wherein God refers to himself as the devoted husband and passionate husband of his people:
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. Hosea 2:14–15 (ESV)
Now we must be careful of drawing too tight a connection between the picture and the original, for later in the same book, God refers to Israel as “my son” (Hos. 11:1). We must not understand anything graphic about the relationship between God and his people.
Yet, what we can see is that the passionate desire which God holds for his people finds its image in the passionate desire which a husband must hold for his wife:
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:25–33 (ESV)
Indeed, when reading through this passage, it can become difficult to know where Paul has in mind a husband and wife or Christ and the church.
It is interesting then to understand that one’s sexuality becomes a means of knowing God. Because in the act of learning to cherish one’s wife, the husband learns in part what it means when God expresses his love for his people. Consider our beach example: Let us say that rather than merely visit Daytona Beach, you also travel about and go to San Diego Beach and Santa Monica Beach in California. As you learn more about other beaches, you will begin to have a better idea of what Zuma Beach.
In the same way, the husband who better loves his wife begins to better understand what it means for God to love his people. By understanding the picture of human marriage, the human being begins to learn the depth of God’s love. You see, God created human sexuality as a basis, as an analogy to communicate to us the depth and character of love.
Since human sexuality exists to create an analogy for the understanding of (and thus relationship with) God, human beings are not free to use sexuality in any manner which we choose. Our sexuality is charge which we must keep to best understand our Savior. Piper explains:
Therefore, all misuses of our sexuality (adultery, fornication, illicit fantasies, masturbation, pornography, homosexual behavior, rape, sexual child abuse, bestiality, exhibitionism, and so on) distort the true knowledge of God. God means for human sexual life to be a pointer and foretaste of our relationship with him.
Christians will often times say that marriage is a parable of the Gospel for the world, but they can easily forget that marriage is a picture given for our own knowledge. Thus, as a husband loves his wife, cares for his wife, protects his wife, the husband teaches his wife in part what it means for God to love her. By drawing the analogy, the wife may better understand the original.
Piper notes that this knowledge also helps to protect our sexuality: As we understand the depths of the love of God, it protects our hearts and thus our bodies from sexual sin. The better which we understand the love of God, the less we will be willing to sin against him.
Piper makes a similar point in his sermon, albeit form a different angle:
Each of these texts teaches that knowing God revealed in Jesus Christ guards our sexuality from misuse, and that not knowing God leaves us prey to our passions. Romans 1:28:
Since they did not see fit to have God in [their] knowledge God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (literal translation)
Suppressing the knowledge of God will make you a casualty of corruption. It is part of God’s judgment. If you trade the treasure of God’s glory for anything, you will pay the price for that idolatry in the disordering of your sexual life. That is what Romans 1:23-24 teaches:
They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
This is the old way. When we come to Christ, we take it off like an old garment. Ignorance of God’s wrath and glory does not fit us any more. The new way is sexual holiness, and Paul contrasts it with not knowing God. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5:
This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
Not knowing God puts you at the mercy of your passions—and they have no mercy without God. Here’s the way Peter says it in 1 Peter 1:14-15:
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.
The desires that governed you in those days got their power from deceit, not knowledge. Ephesians 4:22:
Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires.
The desires of the body lie to us. They make deceitful promises—promises which are half true as in the garden of Eden. And we are powerless to expose and overcome unless we know God—really know God, his ways and works and words embraced with growing intimacy and ecstasy.
The Return by Edward Taylor contains a series of stanzas each which praise Jesus Christ in a different manner. Each stanza is six lines long and consists of a quatrain of 10 syllable lines rhymed a-b-a-b. The quatrain is followed by a chorus (identical in all stanzas):
Oh! that thou Wast on Earth below with mee
Or that I was in Heaven above with thee.
The first stanza is a praise for the sight of Christ, whose beauty, as Taylor writes, has the effect of changing Taylor’s soul.
Guilding my Soule with Choice
Rich Grace, thy Image bright, making me pray,
The concept that a sight of Christ has a transformative effect upon the soul runs through the NT. Thus, Paul lays the heart of sanctification, the gradual conformity of the Christian from a state of nature to the state of glory (to use the phrase of Richard Sibbes from The Bruised Reed), upon a sight of Christ: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spiri” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV).
Thus, the very act of seeing and savoring Jesus (to use John Piper’s phrase) with the eye of faith increases our love for Jesus and simultaneously increases our capacity for the love of Christ (for loving Christ, hoping for Christ’s return and holiness are all aspects of the same matter of transformation).
Two things bear particular note in the first stanza of the poem. First is the matter of Taylor use of meter. The first line scans as straight iambic pentameter. However, due to the use of two pauses, the runs a counter meter:
Inamoring Rayes, thy Sparkles, Pearle of Price
The first two feet scan as iambs. Yet following the comma there is an amphibrach (unstressed, stressed, unstressed) and then a cretic (stressed, unstressed, stressed). Thus Taylor manages to stay with the bounds of normal iambic pentameter and at the same time create a rhythm which requires one to stop and consider each phrase separately (a string of iambs has ability to hurry one smoothly through the line).
Second, what is one to do with this phrase:
Impearld with Choisest Gems, their beams Display
Everything else in the stanza concerning Christ is an unqualified praise. The phrase cannot mean that Christ is somehow possessed or corrupted by sin. The impoisoning sin may be revealed in Taylor: This seems to make best sense, in that the stanza continues onto to discuss the effects of the sight of Christ: first it reveals Taylor’s sin. The phrase may in some manner reference Christ having taken on sin – although seems less likely, in that Christ has already discharged the curse of sin.