Bible Reading Notes Pastor Carl Durham August 25, 2019

Introduction: Last week we ended with the sober warning of Jesus in John 8:21, 24 that those who persisted in rejecting Him as their Savior would, “die in their sin”. This is the most heinous divine judgment which men bring on their own heads when they will not come to Christ. May the Lord help us understand the deep roots of such rebellious unbelief this week, so that we can pray for, and witness to the lost more effectively.

Mon/Tues: read John 7:18-19; John 8:31-45. The old preachers used to call unbelieving mankind’s refusing to come to Christ, ‘soul-murder’, meaning that such a refusal of Christ, who is the only way by which we can have life, constitutes violation of the 6th Commandment: “Thou shalt not kill”. This is the kind of soul-murder going on among the crowds who argue with Jesus in John 8 – even though many of them claimed at first to superficially “believe” in Jesus (John 8:31)!

Once Jesus exposes their impotence and total inability to save themselves, since they are “slaves to sin” (John 8:32-36), they take offense and deny that they have ever been slaves of anyone or anything. They know who their father is, (Abraham John 8:39), but as for you, Jesus, YOU are the one born in the bondage of sin and steeped from birth in immorality (John 8:41)! WE know who our father is, but you don’t! That is what these hateful crowds who oppose Jesus are saying! No wonder Jesus uncovers the fact that they are willing even to kill Him (John 8:37)! He has already levelled this charge of murder in John 7:19,20 – despite the crowds’ denials that anyone was plotting Christ’s demise! What liars they are, as is proven by their private mutterings in John 7:25, where they admit to each other that, indeed, the murder of Jesus is an imminent reality!

Meditate and Pray: How accurately Jesus reads the heart of those who hate Him. He identifies the root problem in John 8:44, where He says that their murderous and lying ways stem from the murdering and false ways of their father Satan! He has been a murderer and a liar from the beginning! Ask Jesus to help you more and more to love the truth. There is no bigger impact we can have on our children, our society and our world than to be known as those who will not tolerate falsehood! But, ah, here is where we must therefore turn our hearts over to our omniscient Savior – He alone can search us and test us, examining our hearts for every hidden falsehood! May the Lord Jesus search us and try us in this way, to see if there be any falsehood in us – cleansing us even from hidden faults (Psalm 19:12)! Use hymn # 151, from Psalm 19, as your prayer in this regard:

Jehovah’s perfect law
Restores the soul again;
His testimony sure
Gives wisdom unto men;
The precepts of the Lord are right,
And fill the heart with great delight.

The Lord’s commands are pure,
They light and joy restore;
Jehovah’s fear is clean,
Enduring evermore;
His statutes, let the world confess,
Are wholly truth and righteousness.

They are to be desired
Above the finest gold;
Than honey from the comb
More sweetness far they hold;
With warnings they Thy servant guard,
In keeping them is great reward.

His errors who can know?
Cleanse me from hidden stain;
Keep me from willful sins,
Nor let them o’er me reign;

And then I upright shall appear
And be from great transgressions clear.

Weds/Thurs: read Genesis 3:8-10 and John 8:44-53: In John 8:44, Jesus goes back once again to the primeval origin of sin, falsehood, murder and all sorts of evil – in Genesis 3. Let’s turn back there once again, using Rev. William Harrell’s insights about Adam’s Fall into lying about God – a sin he expounds on in his 2003 bible notes, where he comments on Adam’s response to the Lord’s question, ‘Adam, where are you?’:

“To the Lord’s question, Adam gives a strange and telling answer in which he does not speak the truth in any regard. He does not say immediately that he was hiding amongst the trees of the garden, thus confessing his physical location. Nor does he disclose his spiritual fall by confessing his sin. Instead, Adam seeks to evade the question and extenuate his responsibility for his radically altered relationship with his God. The man declares that the sound of God filled him with fear. This is not a confession of reverence, but of dread. It implies a defect in God, as though the wisdom Adam gained by his disobedience opened his eyes to behold horrible features in his Lord. Secondly, Adam declares that he was naked, thus implying a defect in his being—one not of his own making, but rather due to the way God had made him. This wisdom which prompts Adam to behold defects all around, with none of it being his responsibility, is not from above but is earthly and demonic (Jas 3:15).”

Fri/Sat/Sun: read Genesis 3:10-11; 3:14-15; Matthew 25:24-26 and John 8:44-59. How quickly Adam falls into believing what is false about the one, true God! In this lie, the head of the human race when he fell began to believe, just like the wicked servant in the Parable of the Talents, that God is by nature a hard, dishonest Master, who steals what it not His!

Here, then, is the origin of all sin: not that Adam stopped being a believer, but that he began to believe what was patently false about God. Of course, telling lies about God began earlier with Satan’s temptation of Eve, who fell in the same way as Adam into believing cruel distortions of the good and gracious character of God! This is all inspired by Satan himself. No wonder, then, that God begins His formal response to Adam’s Fall by cursing the serpent in Genesis 3:14-15, of which Pastor Bill Harrell comments as follows:

“From our sinful and evasive first parents, the Lord turned to confront the serpent. No accounting is asked by God from the reptile. Immediately does the Lord curse the instrument of evil, and then, through the snake’s curse, He curses the devil who had possessed the serpent in order to accomplish this nefarious deed. No more shall this cunning creature entice men to feed their souls the miserable fare of disobedience against God. Instead, the serpent was reduced to the lowest form of living, slithering on its belly and filling with the earth’s dust its mouth that had spoken so deceptively to man. Forever would this reptilian class of creatures remind men that those who yield their bodies to sin will be punished accordingly (2 Cor. 5:10). There is divine justice in this curse, but also divine grace. For by its being so reduced, the serpent would serve as a living lesson to man of the degrading power of sin, so that man should learn not to yield his body as an instrument of sin (Rom. 6: 12,13).”

Meditate and Pray: Give thanks that God is painstaking in giving us living warning signs advising us of the mortal danger of sin. Oh, may the Lord make our children and grandchildren very sensitive to these divine warnings, and may they steer their feet away from the broad path to destruction as they hear His warning words!

Further Reflection: How we should rejoice at how exhaustively and mercilessly God judges and condemns Satan, while graciously promising a Savior to Adam and Eve! As Pastor Bill Harrell writes so eloquently in his words below on Genesis 3:14-15, (with which we close this week’s notes):

“The serpent is cursed as an instrument of evil. However, it is clear from v.15 that God pronounced a far greater curse upon Satan, who had possessed and used the serpent. While the snake was reduced to a lowly and miserable existence, it still would live and serve the useful purpose of warning man of the degrading effects of sin. For Satan, there is the sentence of a perpetual enmity and an eternal death. Far from Satan’s temptation having enlisted the sons of men into his evil company, God would overrule so that enmity was perpetually between the devil and all of mankind. Sinful men may serve Satan, but they loathe the miserable service and hate their oppressing, demonic master. The serpent was demoted, but his animating possessor, Satan, was doomed.”

“Though the satanic enemy of God thought that he had successfully ensnared man into his rebellious crew, the Lord quickly declares to the devil that from the ashes of fallen humanity one would arise to destroy not only the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8), but the devil himself (Rev. 20:10). The success Satan had with our first parents secured his ultimate failure and occasioned the manifestation of the glory of God’s grace in His redemption of sinners.”

Genesis 3: 15 is therefore ultimate proof of the great good which God brought out of the tragedy of the Fall: “This verse is referred to as the proto-evangel, or the first proclamation of the gospel. Where man’s sin enters the world, God counters it with His abounding grace. This verse is the theme of the Bible, telling of Christ’s victory over sin and Satan for God’s glory and man’s good. It alerts us to the reality that man’s salvation is accomplished through bruises. The promised Savior would be bruised on his heel—a symbol of a wound that is not fatal. Through Satan’s machinations with Judas, the Jews, and the Romans, Jesus would shed His blood and die. But death would not be able to hold Him. He would rise again ever to live to God and ever to live for His people, making constant intercessions for them. Satan, however, would receive the head wound that would be mortal. Through Christ’s cross, Satan and all of his principalities and powers were disarmed and bound for their living death in the lake of fire (Col. 2:14,15).”

“Adam and Eve claimed that they were helpless victims of Satan’s temptation. Their claim reveals their desperate depravity. Yet, God manifests His grace amidst His judgment here. The Lord promises One who would yield Himself as a willing, submissive victim to the righteous judgment and wrath of God against man’s sin. Through the work of that victim victory would be wrought for man.”