us vs them blue

Us vs Them (Photo credit: id-iom)

Progressing through the Sermon on the Mount, you’ve now sampled the first three toxic, universal habits that prevent spiritual well-being and God’s goal for humanity: the ability to love one another as He loves us.

Because each poison fortifies the next, the tainting effect is cumulative. Jesus therefore presented spiritual detox—sanctification, becoming holy—in a specific, necessary order.

Flushing out the most destructive habit (willful anger and contempt) makes the next one (an adulterous spirit) less difficult to flush. If you get rid of both, the next one (the need to swear oaths) is even easier.

Spiritual pollution builds in reverse. Maintain the first habit, and the second is harder to flush. Retain both, and the third is even more difficult. The less we see the masterful wisdom of Jesus’ sequence, the sneakier these poisons get and the blinder, more hard-hearted we become.

Unless you approach it his way, spiritual detox and maximum well-being simply can’t happen. Holiness gets reduced to minimal, random acts of kindness, for which we high-five and pat each other on the back. This is precisely Jesus’ warning to the unrighteous Pharisees who considered themselves spiritual A-listers, but whom he called a brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs full of death.

So today, we’ll sample poison #4: score-keeping and payback. True to Jesus’ strategy, this one loses potency once the first three are less available to fortify it. (more…)

Advertisements
Toxic

Toxic (Photo credit: Aalay)

Moving on from retained anger and contempt as the #1 way to poison your spirit, according to the Sermon on the Mount, today we look at poison #2: adultery and divorce.

Because the subject is vastly complex, entire books are written on it. So I can highlight here only a few widely ignored points. As it is, this ended up longer than usual, but I hope there’s enough food for thought to make it worth your time. It won’t be what we usually “hear it said,” however.

First, when Jesus addresses this subject, he refers primarily to the spirit of idolatry and dis-union from God, secondarily to physical acts. It’s a broad mind-set, condition of heart, and life-style that cheats on Him, sometimes knowingly, but usually unknowingly.

Connected to this is lust. Many will argue that it’s strictly sexual in nature, but that’s exactly the sneaky mistake Jesus points out. It has more to do with a grabby, hungry desire to treat people as throw-aways.

This unloving spirit is second only to anger and contempt, and, in fact, feeds on them. Thus, Jesus explains that adultery has already occurred in the heart with just a willfully devouring leer. It may or may not be sexual in nature, though it often is; and rape is the ultimate expression of it. (more…)