52) Transformed Through Behavior

Abraham Maslow (1908 – 1970) was an American psychologist best known for creating a theory of psychological health known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Textbooks usually portray Maslow’s hierarchy in the shape of a pyramid with our most basic needs at the bottom, and the need for self-actualization at the top.

Maslow amended his model near the end of his life…he argued that there is a higher level of development [than self-actualization], what he called self-transcendence. We achieve this level by focusing on things beyond the self like altruism, spiritual awakening, liberation from egocentricity, and the unity of being…

Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos. (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, New York, 1971, p. 269.)

Notice that placing self-transcendence above self-actualization results in a radically different model. While self-actualization refers to fulfilling your own potential, self-transcendence refers literally to transcending the self. And if successful, self-trancenders often have…an awareness of ultimate truth and the unity of all things.

Maslow’s secular psychology of the interconnectedness of the body with the soul through the levels of met needs mirrors the Hebrew concept of the “soul,” nephesh, more rightly means “self,” in other words, the whole person…we don’t have a body so much as we are a body…

This is just common sense. The person we become is developed by

  1. what the body experiences through interpersonal interactions, education, traumas, culture,
  2. choices made emotionally and cognitively to act through the body for good or evil,
  3. and stored permanently in the brain as memories, values, reflexive attitudes, morals.

However moral or immoral, good or evil we have become at the end of this mortal life, is what we are when we face God’s judgment.

Contrary to what is commonly taught in many Christian denominations, the Bible does not teach that those who want to be reconciled to God can simply “accept his forgiveness as a free gift.” to be saved from everlasting death.

By itself, God’s forgiveness does not restore a spiritual connection providing eternal life through connection with him any more than a human forgiving an abusive spouse restores a marital relationship.

As anyone who has ever experienced a damaged relationship knows, restoration requires forgiveness by the victim plus repentance by the victimizer. We understand this in human relationships, which, being in the likeness of God, are equivalent to our relationship with God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love…If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in usIf a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (I John 4:4-21)

This is not an arbitrary rule. The foundation of a godly, i.e. righteous, peaceful relationship is, logically, sacrificing our self-righteous attitude of entitlement. Holding grudges and making demands for payback can only result in fragmenting relationships and ultimately resulting in death / isolation and devastation, not just to people we hate but to ourselves.

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation [lifestyle] his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:6-18)

It takes two to make a relationship. Restoration of a broken relationship requires action by the injuring party.

I think we all agree that the woman whose boyfriend destroyed her life could only begin to consider getting re-involved with him if he restored all he took from her. And then set some serious boundaries until he proved himself, right?

If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,)…Yet if they shall bethink themselves…and repent / return to a former condition, a previous good relationship and make supplication unto thee…saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul… Then… forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion” (I Kings 8:46-50)

To re-pent / return, means that the victimizer takes responsibility for the relationship problem, usually in increments because this is a huge change of direction for the victimizer. The complete process is the essence of the recovery program in Alcohol Anonymous’ Twelve Steps.

  1. Acknowledge the damage done by his / her actions. Honestly, most relationships just limp along at this level, with continued trauma and apologies, harbored resentment and anger, and increasing distance between the parties.
  2. Offer to repair the damage done to the extent possible, also called repairs / reparations.
  3. Take action to prevent a recurrence. This gets to the source of the problem. Stop drinking. Get counseling. Stop interacting seductively with co-workers or online resources. Take medication for neurotransmitter imbalances cause by neuron damage from emotional traumas expressed as PTSD, depression, Bipolar disorder, etc. Be humble enough to admit you need help.

Acknowledging that your actions harmed someone, and giving something of value to the person who suffered loss by your actions, is called atonement.  To some extent it repairs (the action, verb) the damage that was done, with reparations (the things, noun).

  • In politics, monetary reparations are often imposed on the countries that started, but lost, a war, to repay the winning countries their cost of fighting the war (taking the place of the older system of plunder and slaves).
  • In a court of law, a monetary fine is often imposed on the offender, which puts a value on the damage caused by the wrongdoer’s actions.  This allows the judge to maintain his integrity (honesty, righteousness, faithfulness to the law) while allowing mercy to the person who broke the law (which by definition harms another individual.) It “put things right”, in some mystical way restores balance to the universe.
  • In the physical realm, tax payments are one means by which damage to the environment is repaired.
  1. Acknowledge the damage done by his / her actions. Honestly, most relationships just limp along at this level, with continued trauma and apologies, harbored resentment and anger, and increasing distance between the parties.
  2. Offer to repair the damage done to the extent possible, also called repairs / reparations.
  3. Take action to prevent a recurrence. This gets to the source of the problem. Stop drinking. Get counseling. Stop interacting seductively with co-workers or online resources. Take medication for neurotransmitter imbalances cause by neuron damage from emotional traumas expressed as PTSD, depression, Bipolar disorder, etc. Be humble enough to admit you need help.

King David committed multiple sins against 1) God who had entrusted the kingdom to him, 2) his subjects, 3) his faithful general Uriah, 4) Bathsheba, and 5) their illegitimate child.

“thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye” (Exodus 21:1-30)

However, God forgave him, and in the process, God suffered the loss of his own authority and credibility.

“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit…by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me…Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house…I will do this thing before all Israel… (II Samuel 12)

Next, because David repented and pleaded for it, God allowed him to make atonement in order to restore their relationship and God’s reputation. Because this case was so extreme, God required the greatest sacrifice any parent can make – the death of his children. David called for a judgment of paying four times restitution in the parable of a man who killed another man’s lamb, and God held him to it. David atoned for the Uriah’s life with the lives of four sons.

  1. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick. David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth…And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died…Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped…I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (II Samuel 12:7-23)
  2. “Amnon…is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.” (II Samuel 13:32)
  3. “.And Absalom met the servants of David…Then…Joab [David’s top general] took three darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive…And ten young men that bare Joab’s armour compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him…And the king was much moved…and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (II Samuel 18)
  4. Then king Solomon sware by the Lord, saying…as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, [my rebel brother] Adonijah shall be put to death this day. And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.” (I Kings 2:23-25)

David didn’t actively kill his children, but he did sacrifice his children when he gave them up to God to do as God willed. You can best be sure that David realized that each time one of his sons died he knew it was in his place. Listen to his heart-wrenching scream “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” This isn’t just an abstract wish. This is for real. David would much rather have pleaded guilty in a court of law and have been executed for his crimes to end his emotional pain. But he was needed to govern this new nation or Israel would have collapsed even earlier than it did into chaos and potentially utter obliteration.

Notice that David also made atonement to Bathsheba, both in giving her another child, and as we saw earlier, giving her son the kingdom instead of his older and politically-connected brothers. Most sinners shift the blame, claiming exculpatory circumstances with claims like “It’s her fault, she made me do it, she shouldn’t have tempted me…” David accepted responsibility and, highly unusual for a man in a powerful position, made reparations to the woman he had wronged.

And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him.” (II Samuel 12:7-24)

But his reparation was only possible because Bathsheba accepted his atonement, a life for a life. She could have despised him, as his first wife Michal did, and consequently died childless.

God can unilaterally forgive sinners but even He can only offer restoration of relationship, which must be accepted. David’s restoration of relationship with God vividly demonstrates that this is a hard thing to do. It’s not at all what most of Christianity presents as “lay it at the altar.”

In ancient Israel, the Day of Atonement laid the foundation for God to forgive the people of any sins committed since the previous year’s feast. Thus, the Day of Atonement was a yearly reminder that all of Israel’s daily, weekly, and monthly ritual sacrifices and offerings were not sufficient to permanently atone for sin.

Yom Kippur was the only time during the year when the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the innermost chamber of the Temple (or the Tabernacle)…

Altar of Burnt Offering
High Priest at the Altar of Burnt Offering (Exodus 29), wood engraving, published 1886. ZU_09 / Getty Images

Today, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days of repentance, when Jews express remorse for their sins through prayer and fasting. Yom Kippur is the final day of judgment.

“…we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to GodFor he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:20-21)

It is entirely possible to believe in Creator YHVH, but refuse to glorify him by making him one’s authority in life. How can we not recognize that this is adversarial / satanic?

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin…Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it…Then took they up stones to cast at him.” (John 8:31-59)

Eternal damnation will come as a surprise to many people who consider themselves Christians because they “accepted Jesus as their Savior” but deny the kingdom, the power, and the glory of Creator God in the here and now in their core beliefs of self importance, self indulgence, and lifestyle of harming others however carelessly.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a human [unique identity of the soul] be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.“ (John 3:3-6)

Someone who has truly embraced the free gift of salvation, i.e. is connected to God’s Spirit, will show it in their conversion from sinfulness / disconnectedness to righteousness / healthy relationships with God and his children.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death…if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you… if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:2-3, 9-14)

These passages make it clear that just as death is a consequence of sin, so eternal life is a consequence of righteousness, not of a “profession of faith.”

This has huge implications for the way salvation is preached in most Christian denominations today.

The Romans Road is basically a set of key verses that take us through Paul’s Gospel presentation in the book of Romans and explains in a simple, shorthand form, the Gospel…

  1. The first part…confirms the state of every human as sinful and the state of God as holy…
  2. The second part…explains the hope we have in the love of God expressed through Christ…
  3. The third part…If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…
  4. The fourth part…believers are gifted eternal life with God.

A Roman’s Road Prayer

God, I know that I am a sinner and that the wages of sin are death. I believe that you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, as a payment for my punishment. I declare that Jesus is my Lord and profess my faith for salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thank you for your grace, forgiveness, peace, and gift of eternal life. Amen!”

This word “gift” has been corrupted into the lie that simply believing that Jesus is God and that His bodily resurrection defeated sin and death gives you eternal life.

Wow. That interpretation leaves out like 99.99999999% of the rest of the Bible.

Not to mention what every bride and groom understands. Just because you’ve been gifted doesn’t mean you value or will use the gift. That kitchen appliance will not be incorporated into that recipient’s way of life unless chosen to do so.

Nothing has changed since God personally reminded Cain of his options.

 “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin / death lieth at the door.” (Genesis 4:7)

Think logically. Only death to the old allows change to the improved quality of life pursued by virtually everyone whether seeking weight loss, relief from disease, substance abuse treatment, psychotherapy and psychotropics for emotional and personality ailments destructive to their personal aspirations and relationships.

Transformation of the person, the soul, into the original likeness of God as given to humanity through Adam can only happen during the phase of mortality in this life. Once we are raised to immortality we are changeless, perpetuating the bad as well as the good,

Therefore, salvation from death resulting from sin cannot be achieved by identification with the Christ Jesus’ DEATH alone. Salvation from sin can only be achieved through identification with his LIFE.

  • “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad…
  • because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead…
  • that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
  • Therefore IF any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And [for the new creature] all [his/her] things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 5:10-18)

So-called Christ-one/ians who do not in fact personally apply Christ’s death to the flesh do not therefore attain his resurrection to new life, obviously not in this world, and neither in the world to come.

Ask any homeless drug addict who has prayed the Sinner’s Prayer countless times at Rescue Missions but still steals and lies to feed his drug habit, dying a little more every day. He/She has not experienced transformation to new life in this world – nor in the world to come.

This is not just philosophical logic. This is spiritual law.

  • “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized [by the Spirit / merged] into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death…
    • that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
  • For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death,
    • we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
  • Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyedNow if we be dead with Christ,
    • we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more
  • Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin,
    • but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof…
    • but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God…
  • Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey;
    • whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?,,,
  • What fruit [productive results]  had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?
    • for the end of those things is death” (Romans 6)

For the flesh / body lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other…Now the works of the flesh are manifest / obvious, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God…And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:17-24)

This evidence shows Christianity is not the quick ticket to heaven that false prophets claim it is.

Christians are judged – not on a balance scale of good outweighing the bad, but on the criteria of those who have or have not crucified the flesh. This is clearly stated to be terminating fulfillment of physical desires for short-term sensual pleasures obtained at the cost of long-term self-destruction. It is equated with crucifixion because it is acknowledged to be painful and takes time to kill.

Transformation / change requires focusing on what the Lord tells us not to do instead of what our instincts and bodily cravings for pleasure drive us into doing against our better judgment. Look in a mirror. Anyone besides me see a need to diet, or present my body as more modest?

“we all, with open face beholding as in a glass / mirror reflecting back to us the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image…by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18b)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s