We have seen that God is Himself not in violence, earthquake, very strong wind or fire and turmoil and turbulence is from the devil. God is love and Lord Jesus has commanded us to even love and pray for the enemies in the same way as He did for His persecutors. Right life is thus about displaying love of God in our own life by doing good to them socially, spiritually and financially, as per their need and our capacity.
What is right life? – Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden and God would visit them daily and they had all possible necessities cared for. That is right life where God is everything and in total control. After getting expelled from the Garden, the way back in was guarded by cherubim ‘and a flaming sword which turned everyway’ (Genesis 3:24). The devil was also once in ‘Eden, the garden of God’ and he had arranged the fall of Adam and Eve but now all were out of the Garden and the devil took control over everything thus getting mankind away from the right life (Ezekiel 28:13). Man was created in the ‘image and likeness of God’ and the serpent tempted them with what they already had that ‘your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God’ (Genesis 3:5).
The opposite of right life is to try to be God and living in the kingdom of the serpent and instead of pleasing God we became involved in pleasing the new master. And in the serpent’s world there are two ways to please him, first, to run away from holiness altogether, to flee from the father’s home, with the prodigal son, to the far country of this world. The second way is even more dangerous, to pursue holiness, or our own imagined concept of holiness, and still keep complaining about it, like the elder brother (Luke 15:11-13). Older brothers create a façade of their outward purity, for display to others but inside they are in the grip of the serpent’s lies that God desires everything from us in lieu of the gift of life, through a daily life of sacrifices. In such a world we shall miss the tender care, protection, abundance and storm free life that the Good Shepherd, who has laid down His life for us, provides (Psalm 23:1-3).
When God created the world, ‘the morning stars sang together’ and the angels shouted for joy for such was the magnificence (Job 38:7). Since the time God revealed His glory through the manifestation of His Son by saying, ‘Let there be light’ the heavens have declared His glory (Psalm 19:1). Adam and Eve after being created joined in this celestial song. The devil closed their whole being from such glory by shrinking the size of the whole creation to Eden’s only one restriction, as if their very rights were totally violated. In such a world as painted by the devil God is pictured as a tyrant God who wants to exercise total control over human beings. In the devil’s world, gifts are hardly any and we never hear the creation’s song of praise and it matters little to the devil whether we run away or remain like the elder brother. Lord Jesus identified such people as those whose ‘eyes are blinded and their hearts hardened’ so that they can neither see nor understand with their hearts (John 12:40).
Right life, therefore, is about hearing right, speaking right and doing right, for love of God is about my whole being. First, about hearing right, Apostle Paul warns us that anyone, even an angel from heaven, who preaches another gospel than the Holy Bible, what they preached, be accursed (Galatians 1:8). Eve did not have to listen to the lies of the serpent and so it is with us. ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ and wrong hearing will lead to wrong faith (Romans 10:17). Second, about speaking right, ‘For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned’ (Matthew 12:36-37). Therefore, anything that we speak can either be a blessing by becoming a prayer to the LORD or a curse for the devil to act upon or a fact for my mind, heart and soul to register and act upon or for the other listeners to react. And I have to give account of my words on the Day of Judgment.
Third, about doing right, one of the most repeated statement in the Old Testament about the kings of Judah and the Northern kingdom is, ‘And he did evil in the sight of the LORD’ (2 Kings 23:37). Lord Jesus’ command is to love your neighbor as yourself’ and in this state no evil can be done towards others (Mark 12:31). As per the Lord the right living would be to ‘love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44). Right living is to deny self and live in and for the Lord.
So when we deny ourselves and return home, we must not return to just survive as servants but with a deeper sense of belonging by turning our ears upward to be a part of His family. Only then can we ‘taste and see that the LORD is good’ (Psalm 34:8) and then laugh to scorn the lies of the devil. Only then shall we meet the God who happily bears the sorrows of the world (Isaiah 53:3) and who celebrates with a grand feast to welcome the lost son and urges the older brother to join ((Luke 15:31-32). The God we see is totally different from what Satan’s lies reveal, for the Savior Lord goes looking for one lost sheep and rejoices on finding it (Matthew 18:12-13).
Lord Jesus came to lead us, the prodigal and the older brother, both, back into the Father’s house to a right life, in to a house filled with joy and laughter where the angels sing His glory and we join in their song.
Symptoms of right living – In the Garden of Eden we were permitted to eat from the abundance of God, including from the ‘Tree of life’ which was in the midst of the garden (Genesis 2:9). Apostle John identifies the Messiah God as having in Him life and ‘the life was the light of men’ (John 1:4). Right life was and is to sit under and eat from the Tree of life, the Son of God and rejoice in the light of His Divine glory for only when His light was revealed by God, could the earth be ready for creation. We also likewise cannot be of any use for God’s kingdom without life that is in Lord Jesus’ light. Sitting under this Tree is not only about partaking of the fruit but also about extending the boundaries of God’s Garden and we do that by bearing fruit in ourselves like the earth did during creation.
Lord Jesus had healed a man suffering an ‘infirmity thirty eight years’ but then declared that ‘the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do’ (John 5:19-20). By faith we have been made part of God’s family and as a child of God I have all the privileges of the Son of God as a joint heir with Him. With this I must also be ready to be used by God in the same manner as His Only Begotten son was. Lord Jesus then defines our role as a branch to ‘bear fruit of itself’ and we can ‘bear much fruit’ only when we remain in Him and He in us for ‘He is the vine and we are the branches’ (John 15:4-5).
Lord Jesus compared the Kingdom of Heaven to the giving of talents by a master to his servants according to the ability of each one. The one with five talents doubled that by bearing much fruit but the one who out of fear had buried the single one that he had, had to lose even that (Matthew 25:14-30).The right life is about partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Life while enjoying the bounties of God’s Garden but it is also about bearing much fruit.
Why should we bear fruit? – Man was created by God and then came the observation, ‘it is not good that man should be alone’ and God created a suitable helper and they became the first community of two and were required to tend to each other (Genesis 2:18). A tree bears fruit but it does not eat its fruit and likewise the fruit that we are required to bear are for the benefit of the community of people that we are part of. Lord Jesus being ‘the Vine’ produced the fruit of salvation for the entire humanity but He Himself did not need salvation.
The first symptom of our fruitfulness is seen in our attitude towards others, for a fruit laden branch is always lowered down whereas a branch with least fruit would remain upward bound and is likely to get stoned for giving whatever fruit it has. Lord Jesus declared that the Father in heaven removes every branch that does not bear fruit and pruning is done of a fruit bearing branch also. Right living is to be useful for the Kingdom of God and be lower down, in humility.
The second aspect of fruit bearing is internal to us but its repercussions are external. Apostle Paul has listed out nine fruit of the Holy Spirit and these change the attitude of the individual after change from within which gets reflected without. Our process of sanctification and transformation is one part of the pruning that we undergo to bear much fruit.
How do we bear much fruit? – It is about remaining with the Vine through daily fellowship, Bible study and adaptation in one’s life (John 15:4-5). The angel of God measured the width and the depth of the river flowing from ‘under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar’. The first measure of 1,000 cubits had a depth up to the ankles; the second measurement brought the water level up to the knees; the third time it was up to the waist and the fourth time it was ‘too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed’ (Ezekiel 47:1-12).
Scripture then reveals the properties of the trees on the river bank and their fruit bearing is every month for food and their leaves are for medicine.
The river flows from the altar and depicts the Holy Spirit revealing the ‘depths and riches of the Word of God’. The different levels of depth are about our involvement, am I happy to only sit on the bank and eat fruit or go in, to be able to bear fruit myself and the deeper I go the better is the output of the fruit for others. If I have to reach out to win souls then the message must be clear and understandable for only then will it bear much fruit (Matthew 28:19-20).
The command from Lord Jesus is to ‘love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind’ (Luke 10:27). This is about thoughts, feelings and desires and all that God has given and it is about ‘all’ of it and not in part. This is a tough command and requires total diligence and perseverance. When we jump into the river and submit for total engulfing, only then can this come about and only then will the fruit be abundant. It is then that I can expect to be seen by the Lord as a faithful servant and be called to ‘enter into the joy of your Master’. Lord Jesus by His sacrifice has made us perfect forever while we are being sanctified or being made holy (Hebrew 10:14). The correct symbols of right life would reflect this while being a work in progress.
How can violence happen in the Kingdom of God? – Lord Jesus has revealed, ‘And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force’ (Matthew 11:12). Kingdom of Heaven means Kingdom of God and after the rebellion the devil and his followers were thrown out from this kingdom. Greek word ‘biazetai’ from ‘biazo’ can be translated in two ways, ‘to come with violence’ or to ‘suffer violence’. One meaning could be that Lord Jesus was finishing the control of the devil by ‘healing all who were brought to Him’; by opening the physical and spiritual eyes of people and by commanding demons to leave the afflicted people. Thus the Kingdom was forcefully breaking into Satan’s domain and sin. The second could be that God’s Kingdom suffers as evil forces fight against it to stop its spread.
The second issue is about ‘violent or forceful men’ who take it by force. Luke 16:16 provides a clue that ‘the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is pressing into (forcing his way into) it’. Lord Jesus was by the lake of Gennasaret and ‘the multitudes pressed about Him to hear the word of God’ and He had to get into a boat and then preach (Luke 5:1-3). Both verses of Matthew and Luke, together, show that the Kingdom of Heaven advances into the world with conflict. There are forces of evil, both in the physical as well as spiritual realm, opposing the preaching of God’s Word. On the other hand we are filled with power, love and self control from the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7) and authority to face the ‘principalities and powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 6:12).
The claim for admission into the covenant, up to the time of John the Baptist had been a national one but now it is a moral and individual one. But it does not mean that grace and mercy from God with predestination and choosing by God are not relevant. The Scribes and Pharisees lost the Kingdom, with everything in their favor, for man’s strongest inclinations are towards entering heaven with personal merits of good works. Godly violence’ in the mind, heart and soul is necessary to resist this self-effort.
Faith itself will keep a person in perpetual activity to obey Lord Jesus’ command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ with a continuous violent internal struggle. It is not an easy battle, though God’s saving grace will strengthen the believers. Lord Jesus has promised, ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20). Apostle Paul assured the believers who were facing tremendous opposition, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us’ (Romans 8:31). The Apostle did not mean that there will be no opposition and violence but the God will help us in our trials. One can be saved only by grace but the faith that enables us to face both the external and internal violence of thoughts and words is also God’s gift and not due to human ways.
The chosen of God are taken in chariots of fire into heaven and it is an indication of violence but man would rather travel on a feather bed without realizing that the destination would be fire of hell. The devil attempted to exalt himself through violence towards a God who is love and he uses such measures only to restrain us from entering into God’s presence. The flaming sword turns every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life and any attempt by someone to forcibly enter would be thwarted. The Messiah is called the ‘Prince of peace’ and He opened the way back for us. His peace He gave us to calm our inner being to enable us to fight the spiritual battles raging all around us. Right living, thus, is a life of internal peace despite the violence all around and this is a gift of God.