Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 8
March 26, 2006
14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.
1901 ASV Translation:
14 And soldiers also asked him, saying, And we, what must we do? And he said unto them, Extort from no man by violence, neither accuse any one wrongfully; and be content with your wages.
- I. The Third "Group" of the Redeemed.
- A. The "soldiers" who came.
- 1. Most likely not "Roman".
- 2. The soldiers are the "enforcers" of the "kingdom of the fang"...they are the "fangs".
- B. The "problems" of the soldiers...
- 1. They used their position as "enforcers" to "cause people to tremble" (for any number of purposes -- extortion, ego-exaltation, humiliation, etc.).
- 2. They, apparently, used "accusation of evil doing" as a primary method of operation. The authorities would naturally accept the testimony of their own enforcers over the protests of innocence from one accused by them.
- 3. They were also, apparently, notoriously discontented with the level of material prosperity that their occupation provided to them.
- 4. In overview: if we take these "problems" as indicative of the overall lifestyle of the soldiers, what we almost have to conclude is that they were fundamentally discontented; that the 'locus' of their discontent was their idolatrous fixation upon materialism; and that their approach to their discontent was to "shake down" those who were relatively easy targets of manipulation through intimidation.
- C. John's "requirements" -- that they desist from each of the manifestations of their former and automatic way of looking at life -- are "instructive".
- 1. The most fundamental assumption of the "regeneration of snakes into the children of Abraham" is that there has been an introduction of a totally new life into the mix.
- 2. The very issue of "instruction" to those who have recently become recipients of this new life implies that the "new" life is going to have to "compete with" the old ... i.e., though the "new" has been inserted into the inner reality, the "old" has not been excised as of yet.
- a. "Instruction" implies one thing very emphatically: the mental appropriation of data as facts is a very fundamental aspect of the processes of Life. Life by the Spirit is, in some very real way, tied directly to Truth as data for the mind.
- b. "Instruction", given Jesus' comment to Peter in Matthew 16:17 (flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father Who is in heaven hath revealed it), is not the "bottom line": it cannot generate true understanding.
- c. Thus we may conclude that the Spirit of God is the Effective Agent and the words of Truth are the most fundamental instrument in His "tool chest". Thus, there is this reality: even the work of God in a person is genuinely hindered when that person is ignorant of His words. And, in a more significant way, the words of God are absolutely worthless apart from the active labor of the Spirit of God.
- 3. The "expectation" of the Spirit-filled-prophet (John) that his instructions actually could be followed is as strong an indication as we can find of a very real regeneration that carries a genuine power of its own into the conflict. There is no real point to telling a snake to act like a dove. It cannot, will not, and does not even wish to so act. There has to be an insertion of capable power into the person if there is to be any kind of real change. This is a bit problematical, theologically, because of the fact that the teaching of Jesus Himself was that the Spirit of Power was only "with" the disciples until He was "given" to indwell them (John 14:17 compared with 7:39). How was the "new birth" rendered "effective" without the "indwelling" of the new "seed of God" (1 John 3:9)? If John, himself, had to be "filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb" in order to be able to fulfill his appointed role as forerunner, were those to whom he preached not "less" capable? Is not the reality of depravity that compelled the "filling from the womb" just as real to all others? And if so, just what was the nature of the regeneration that enabled the soldiers to see life from a totally new perspective? It is doubtless a matter of "degree": a "with you" relationship could, apparently, provide at least the minimal reality of a new birth. But, there is no real point to an "in you" reality if the "with you" reality could really "carry the ball". Thus, in the progressive outworking of the relationship of God to man, the "new birth" reality has always existed, but the degree to which it was "empowered" was relative to the particular dispensation in which God was working...less power early; more power later, as the "proximity" of the Spirit was altered. He was "upon", "with", and "within" as the plan unfolded. It is, perhaps, instructive that God provided a more direct power as the development of the mystery of iniquity increased in power. However, that Paul had to constantly urge Timothy to operate out of the "Spirit of Power" (even after the "in you" reality was fully established) is a clear indication that even the "in you" reality is not a complete dominion. There is yet a further development to come in the Plan of God by which we will be 'totally empowered' so as to never sin. This, however, apparently requires death and resurrection so that this "body of sin" might be done away and fully replaced by a "body of righteousness".