N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 3 (Sin enters the world; Works salvation? )

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplishes our salvation.

Rom 1:26-32

(Rom. 1:26-32 NET)  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones,  27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.  29 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips,  30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents,  31 senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

Remember from the last post that Paul first points out that after Adam, mankind (pre-Abraham), with some unmentioned but understood exceptions, quickly forgot about God, and so they chose to worship created things rather than the Creator. Mankind fell into widespread, nearly universal idolatry.

Most people suppose that when Paul explains what is wrong with the human race, he focuses on “sin.” This is wrong. What he says about “sin” in Romans 1– 2 is secondary to what he says about idolatry. The primary human failure is a failure of worship. In Romans 1: 18– 25, “ungodliness” precedes “injustice” [JFG: or “unrighteousness”]: those who worship that which is not God will inevitably produce distortions in the world.

The point of “injustice” is not just that it means “wrong behavior” (for which the perpetrator would be culpable), but that it means introducing powerful rogue elements into God’s world. Like a foolish businessman who appoints to the board friends without the company’s best interests at heart, we have handed over control to forces that will destroy us and thwart our original purpose.

Consider how this works out. God is known, Paul explains, through the things that he made. The priestly calling of all humans was then to honor God, to thank and praise him.

Instead, however, humans “swapped the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of the image of mortal humans— and of birds, animals, and reptiles” (Rom. 1: 23). This results from a still more fundamental “exchange”: “They swapped God’s truth for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever” (1: 25). Paul here echoes the ancient Israelite insistence on worshipping the true God rather than idols. That is primary.

Sin does indeed have dire consequences: “People who do things like that deserve death” (1: 32). But his point is much wider than the fate of the human beings in question, important though that is (as 2: 1– 16 makes clear). Paul’s concern is that the Creator’s whole plan is put in jeopardy by the failure of humans to worship him alone. Only through that worship will they be sustained and fruitful in their vocation to look after his world.

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 1455-1469). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

And so Paul lists the sins into which idolaters fall, having rejected the truth about God. This seems to be primarily a description of Gentiles.

Now, the point isn’t that these are wrong things because they spring from idolatry. Paul’s point is that idolatry leads to things that are so obviously wrong you shouldn’t need the Torah or visions from God to explain it to you. The general revelation of the Creation and our moral natures tells people enough to figure this out — and yet having left the truth about God, amazingly enough, the Gentiles not only commit these sins, they deny that these are sinful things at all!

Rom 2:1-5 [JFG]

(Rom. 2:1-5 NET) Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things.  2 Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things.  3 And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment?  4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?  5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed! 

Paul here picks up a second basis for holding those who reject God accountable for their sins. Their own consciences declare their behavior wrong!

Here he likely intends to pick up the Jews along with the Gentiles. The Jews may not be idolaters, but they were not taking advantage of God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience designed to lead to repentance (that is, the condition in Deu 30 for the end of Exile). The Jews are repeatedly charged with being “stubborn” in Deu. (9 times and in very critical junctures of the book).

The logic of Paul’s argument is certainly broad enough to pick up Gentiles, too, but as to Jews, he does not pursue the argument based on idolatry and false worship. Rather, he later credits Jews with having the Torah and other blessings from God as an advantage that they have thrown away (Rom 3:1-2; 9:4).

Rom 2:6-11, Part 1

This brings us to this controversial passage:

(Rom. 2:6-11 NET)  6 He will reward each one according to his works:  7 eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality,  8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness.  9 There will be affliction and distress on everyone who does evil, on the Jew first and also the Greek,  10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, for the Jew first and also the Greek.  11 For there is no partiality with God.

Wright points out that Rom 1-3 introduce several themes that Paul expands on later in the book. Therefore, you may not find a complete understanding of a passage in chapter 1, 2, or 3. You have keep on reading! For example, to explain the early verses in chapter 2, Wright refers to chapter 8.

(Rom. 8:1-4 NET) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.  3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 

Wright explains,

This statement looks back at last to Romans 2: 1– 11, where Paul had warned about the “condemnation” that would fall on evildoers. He has already said that those “in the Messiah” have the verdict pronounced over them— the verdict, that is, of “righteous” or “in the right.”

He has already promised that those who are thus “declared to be in the right by his blood” (5: 9) will be rescued from the wrath that is still to come. [(Rom. 5:9 NET)  9 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath.]

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 4612-4621). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

In Rom 2:8, Paul promises wrath for those who “do not obey the truth,” that is, those who deny God and so worship false gods, and “follow unrighteousness” (aren’t faithful to covenant with God) — all of which is “selfish ambition” because it’s the nature of rejecting the true God to become unlike the selfless YHWH.

The point is not primarily morality. Again, it’s about worshiping the true God as he truly is. Gentiles suffer wrath because they reject the truth (referring back to Gen 1:18 ff) and Jews suffer wrath for rejecting the covenant with God (referring back to Gen 2:1-5).

Hence, Rom 5:9 declares that the only people God considers righteous (faithful to the covenant) are those declared righteous (Wright would say “in the right,” but you are only in the right if you right under the prevailing covenants) by the blood of Christ.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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26 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 3 (Sin enters the world; Works salvation? )

  1. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Something seems to be out of order here, these messages in the verses quoted do not address any thing about the subject.

    “The point is not primarily morality. Again, it’s about worshiping the true God as he truly is. Gentiles suffer wrath because they reject the truth (referring back to Gen 1:18 ff) and Jews suffer wrath for rejecting the covenant with God (referring back to Gen 2:1-5).”

    Gen 1:18 ESV to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.

    Gen 2:1-5 ESV Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (2) And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (3) So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (4) These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (5) When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground,

  2. Larry Cheek says:

    Genesis being the book that tells of the creation of man and his first departure from God, identifies that sin is the division. Worship was never identified as a failure of man. In fact the word “worship” only occurs once, “Worshiped” occurs twice. None of these are communicating the lack of or a command perform. Abraham was the first to use the term to describe what he was going to do to obey a directive from God.
    (Gen 22:2 ESV) He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

    (Gen 22:5 ESV) Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”
    (Gen 24:26 ESV) The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD
    (Gen 24:48 ESV) Then I bowed my head and worshiped the LORD and blessed the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son.

    There were no communications about man or men worshiping or failing to worship God prior to the instruction to Abraham.

    But, notice communications about “sin”, “sinning”, “sinned” and “sinners”.

    (Gen 4:7 ESV) If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, SIN is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

    (Gen 18:20 ESV) Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their SIN is very grave,

    (Gen 20:9 ESV) Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I SINNED against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great SIN? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.”

    (Gen 31:36 ESV) Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, “What is my offense? What is my SIN, that you have hotly pursued me?

    (Gen 39:9 ESV) He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and SIN against God?”

    (Gen 42:22 ESV) And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to SIN against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.”

    (Gen 50:17 ESV) ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their SIN, because they did evil to you.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

    (Gen 20:6 ESV) Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from SINNING against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.

    (Gen 13:13 ESV) Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great SINNERS against the LORD.

    Men were held accountable for SIN prior to WORSHIP even being mentioned.

    There are only 15 occurrences of all forms of “worship” in the books Exodus through Deuteronomy.

    But, “sin” is found 157 times, “sinned” 16 times.

    Conclusion, all of Adams descendants outside of the those from Abraham’s descendants were not held as accountable to “sin” as they were for not “worshiping”?
    Seems to me that someone has a purpose to address, by looking in another direction.

  3. Dwight says:

    It is hard to separate not worshipping God and worshipping another from sin, as that itself was sinful. That is actually some of the first parts of the 10 commandments.
    You shall have no other gods before Me.
    4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

    This set the pace for the rest of the commandments in that if you worshipped God, then you should do or not do the other things on the list as commands. These were moral laws, but more importantly they were God’s moral laws.

  4. Larry Cheek says:

    God discusses his reason of destroying all mankind except Noah and his family. Do we now attempt to correct God, to insure him that we understand it was not disobedience to his instructions or rebellion to his desires for man, but that man did not “worship” him?

    Gen 6:5-7 ESV The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. (7) So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

    As God declared that Noah was blameless in his generation, was he really saying that Noah “worshiped” God? Or would we believe that Noah did not do wickedness as other men were doing? Walking with God could be construed as “worshiping” or could not be blamed for not following God’s instructions. In other words he was obedient, therefore righteous.
    Gen 6:8-9 ESV But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (9) These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

    This is the first recorded message of an altar and offering a sacrifice, with the exception of Able’s sacrifice. Notice, that God made a promise to never again curse the ground because of man. This totally abolished the curse which was placed upon the ground because of man and guaranteed that there would never be another.

    Gen 8:20-22 ESV Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (21) And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. (22) While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

    How do we reconcile these actions with man still believing that the ground is cursed in some fashion? That it is in need of redemption?

  5. Dwight says:

    Larry, if we think of worship as a physical act or a succession of physical acts, then you are correct. But I get the sense that N.T. Wright is using worship in the same sense we would use love. Put it this way worship, like love, begins in the heart and it manifest itself in action towards the loved or worshipped and it is good. But we can move our worship and then it is bad.
    The scriptures say we Luke 16 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
    and
    I cor.10 “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.”
    Basically you cannot say to worship God and worship other things as well.
    So when Adam and Eve sinned by taking of the tree, they first turned their worship from God to…well themselves (maybe even Satan) and then they sinned.
    “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.”
    They were turned to their own desires before they sinned.
    If they would have stayed in worship mode to God, they would have obeyed God. Unfortunately we all need saving because we have turned to the world and worship the world and we sin, but God wants our worship.
    Now I might be understanding Wright’s position on this, but he does say this “those who worship that which is not God will inevitably produce distortions in the world.”
    But overall worship can still be accomplished even with sin as I believe that David is an example of. He sinned and yet was still seeking God. So turning to self for selfish reason may not be exactly like turning to an idol, but its close.

  6. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    N.T. Wright says many things that I cannot coordinate with any messages in scripture. It appears to me that he wants to become the author of God’s Word.
    For an example, this communication referring to “worship” does not fit with the text in scripture. If he is attempting to use the word “worship” in substitution of “love” what purpose would it serve? If anyone does not worship God it is evident that they do not love God. Yet, either one of these cannot be substituted for the the function of both, one will never stand on its own merits fulfilling the roll of both. So let us look at “love” and how it was used throughout Genesis. It is only found in these verses. Notice, it is never used as man loves God, its usage is man’s love for another, a wife and God’s love for man. Notice, how much time and how many lives have lived and died during the time frame covered from Adam to Joseph’s death when he is 110 years old.

    (Gen 22:2 ESV) He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

    (Gen 24:12 ESV) And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.

    (Gen 24:14 ESV) Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.”

    (Gen 24:27 ESV) and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.”

    (Gen 24:49 ESV) Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.”

    (Gen 27:4 ESV) and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”

    (Gen 29:20 ESV) So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

    (Gen 29:32 ESV) And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.”

    (Gen 32:10 ESV) I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.

    (Gen 39:21 ESV) But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

    A whole of 10 times love occurs. But, notice the number of times forms of the word wicked occurs.
    (Gen 6:5 ESV) The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    (Gen 13:13 ESV) Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD.

    (Gen 18:23 ESV) Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?

    (Gen 18:25 ESV) Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

    (Gen 19:7 ESV) and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.

    (Gen 38:7 ESV) But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD put him to death.

    (Gen 38:10 ESV) And what he did was wicked in the sight of the LORD, and he put him to death also.

    (Gen 39:9 ESV) He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
    Just one short of love.

    There is one verse in Genesis that speaks of a duty assigned to Abraham.
    Gen 18:17-19 ESV The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, (18) seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (19) For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
    Do men always read into assigned commandments, “love”?

    In conclusion. How would these men understand any thing about God desiring their love or requiring man to worship him? There are no comments in either one of those directions for the years of the earth through the death of Joseph.

    I am not attempting to condone that man should not love God. It does look like it would be important that God would have instructed mankind that he desired man’s love. So looking a little further we will eventually learn the occurrence of man loves God. Exo 20:6.

    (Exo 15:13 ESV) “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

    (Exo 20:6 ESV) but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    (Exo 21:5 ESV) But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’

    (Exo 34:6 ESV) The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

    (Exo 34:7 ESV) keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

  7. Alabama John says:

    Larry,

    Don’t forget what God told Abram when he was 99 years old Gen 17:1 Walk before me faithfully and be blameless.

    Being faithful, not perfect, will overcome many sins.

    Sad, but most worship out of fear of God instead of love of God.

    We’ve all been to too many funerals of folks we loved and respected that according to our teaching were burning in hell while we sang songs of love of God at their funeral.

    Love to hear that old song by Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson singing “‘Just a closer walk with thee”.

    WE sing far better and accurate than we preach!

  8. Alabama John says:

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    There ways to say “worship” that do not use the English word worship. We’ll cover many of these as we work through Romans, but it’s going to take some time.

    For example, Paul summarizes his conclusions in Romans as follows:

    (Rom. 15:8-12 ESV) 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

    “in order that the Gentiles might glorify God.” Clearly, this is speaking of worship.

    Paul quotes the prophets who say that the Gentiles will “extol” and “praise” God — again clear references to worship.

    In fact, Paul expects us to remember that the problem God is solving is found in —

    (Rom. 1:21-23 ESV) 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    Again, Paul speaks in terms of worship, in this case of the worship of idols. Through Jesus, the Gentiles have been brought into the Kingdom and, as a result, now worship the one true God. That’s a major theme of Romans according to Paul himself.

    Paul speaks of love of God as well. It’s not as though we are somehow forced to choose between loving God and worshiping God — but Paul has chosen to condemn the Gentiles without faith for their false worship and to praise God for bringing the Gentiles into Israel so that they worship the true God. It’s there. It’s true. And there are many more passages that speak in these terms. For example,

    (Rom. 4:19-21 ESV) 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

    Paul says that as Abraham “gave glory,” that is, worshiped, God, he grew in his faith. Worship leads to stronger faith, and yet faith leads to worship. It’s self-reinforcing!

    And most of these references to worship do not use the English word “worship.” And they are really about the assembly so much as a life characterized by worship — as in —

    (Rom. 12:1 ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

    And I’ve not NEARLY exhausted the references to worship in Romans. But most of us are so interested in other questions that we fail to pick up this theme, and so we miss something of Paul’s message. But it’s not the only theme of Romans. And yet it’s clearly an important theme — because Paul was a Jewish rabbi. He likely began each day with the Shema — a worshipful prayer. For the Jews, the Temple was the only place for “worship,” but for Christians, because the church is now the Temple where God lives through his Spirit, worship is no longer limited to a place or specified rituals (the Five Acts notwithstanding). Rather, we live lives of worship — which is a preview of the NHNE —

    (Rev. 22:3-5 ESV) 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

    PS — It is very inappropriate to question the legitimacy of Wright’s intentions by saying things like “It appears to me that he wants to become the author of God’s Word.” You don’t know that. Please, refrain from personal insults and ad hominem arguments. You are welcome to disagree with Wright, me, or anyone that suits you, but disagree with their arguments, not their supposed motivations, please.

  10. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I probably did get a little carried away in explaining what I thought about Mr. Wright’s intentions, what I said has been fueled by what I read here. I have never read Mr. Wright’s books, and from what I have learned here about his writings I would much rather trust reading The Scriptures. You see I have posted many comments contesting messages authored by Mr. wright here and almost none were addressed in any way. Usually, if someone posts a comment that is redirecting back to the scriptures that shows a disagreement with a position and others see that the message is not supported in that manner, many will join in and attempt to shed light on the subject which helps to define the true scriptural message. When anyone posts a comment and it is never addressed would it not be normal to believe that the comment was a valid one? Jay, I have considered your health issues, and really do not understand how you manage to communicate as much as you do , but I do believe that there are many very knowledgeable individuals who are not stepping out of the place of safety to express good thoughts. Even adding to that fuel mentioned above is the heading of each of your posts in this series from Mr. Wright. I have continually reread this statement, “N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement” , and your support of his writings has also affirmed that you might believe also that it is, “a more scriptural way of understanding”. After saying that I do remember there were a few places where you have mentioned that you did not fully agree with him, I’ll have to go back and review the content. I hope you all will forgive me for bending this so far out.
    I know that many of you writing, reading and commenting here have credentials backing up the education you have attained with very guided curriculum’s. I have not had that experience, I am not sure that I would have had the will power to set under instructors attempting to teach some of the type of material which we see basing upon some of the studies here. I would have contested with scripture like I have here and would have failed the classes. This is a very good method for learning what is correct, but it is only as good as the comments push it to be.

    A part of my concern in the directions that Mr. Wright seems to be going is in the area of value placed upon the assembly as being the place to worship. It is far easier for many who have never had the need to see the organized worship setting from the outside (as being pushed out) because you have set firm on areas that we were teaching in error, this will cause you to re-evaluate everything and open your eyes to areas you would never encountered before in your place you felt safe.
    Jay, you addressed that in the following: “For the Jews, the Temple was the only place for “worship,” but for Christians, because the church is now the Temple where God lives through his Spirit, worship is no longer limited to a place or specified rituals (the Five Acts notwithstanding). Rather, we live lives of worship.”
    I believe that Mr. Wright does not see this in the same view as you have presented. He is held highly in his position within organizations which would not see the freedom for worship outside the organizations formalities.
    Feel free to correct me on any of these concepts that I have misunderstood.

  11. Dustin says:

    Larry,

    Tom Wright does not believe that church is the only place where God can be worshipped. He does believe a church’s liturgy can help take away the cult of personality that can happen with “celebrity” pastors. However, he doesn’t believe that you have to attend the Church of England to properly worship God.

  12. Dwight says:

    Larry, I have to admit I don’t know much about NT Wright. Some of his material which I get through this site I seem to agree with and some I don’t. Sometimes I agree with a point, but don’t agree with what he is trying to push the point with. I am very unsure about the whole NHNE concept, but don’t think that it affects my hope to be with God.
    In regards to worship I think we limit it severely in how we think about it. I have sat through too many lessons on Abraham and his worship in his sacrificing of his son after all it does say in the first recorded usage of worship in Gen 5, ” “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
    But we have to then imagine that God appeared and picked Abraham who did not worship him before this point. But we know that Abraham had sacrificed to God before this point and had followed God before this point. But we get caught up on the word worship and the actual performance of it despite the word being there.
    Abraham was a worshipper of God and thus worshipped him.
    My point is that sin is created because we don’t worship God enough to deny ourselves or deny Satan. It could be argued that Adam and Eve worshipped their creator, God, up until they rebelled and fulfilled their own desires under the guidance of Satan. I think this is a valid way of thinking.
    But then again as I pointed out, David who was a man after God’s own heart and worshipped him constantly, was subject to sin. Does the presence of sin mean that David didn’t worship God, yes and no. In the overall arch David sinned, which was against God, but repented, so even though he had lapses of not bowing down due to lust, he overall worshipped God, which was reflected in his repentance. In contrast in the OT and Jesus also complains that “they worship me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Meaning that they praise God, but don’t live Godly, which is true worship.
    It is my belief that we are moveable centers or worship and service in that we are called “priest, a Temple and a living sacrifice” and God is the center of our life.

  13. Alabama John says:

    David,
    I have been in the presence of many who worshiped God and sent up smoke to the heavens for their worship pf Jesus the Holy Spirit and Father God and It was real worship instead of lip service or by the book as many call it.
    Throughout history many have worshiped God, meaning all three, in many ways as did Abraham before he was picked for his faithfulness.
    The real bottom line is there is only one Father God and those that worshiped Him in many a ways did it honestly, reverently, and faithfully, even if it was different from what we see as right and proper and accepted. God looked on their hearts like he did Abraham and even closer to home God did the same reading of the heart in the NT when he picked out Paul.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry wrote,

    Jay, you addressed that in the following: “For the Jews, the Temple was the only place for “worship,” but for Christians, because the church is now the Temple where God lives through his Spirit, worship is no longer limited to a place or specified rituals (the Five Acts notwithstanding). Rather, we live lives of worship.”
    I believe that Mr. Wright does not see this in the same view as you have presented. He is held highly in his position within organizations which would not see the freedom for worship outside the organizations formalities.

    I’ve seen nothing in Wright’s book that associates Christian worship as tightly with the assembly as you suggest. Please provide evidence for your assertion.

  15. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    As I said before, I have not read Mr. Wright’s books, my basis for believing this is the portions of the books that you have quoted. Within these quotes and your comments I have never seen a message that would lead me to believe that he accepts that an individual who was not able to meet with an assembly of believers on a regular basis is still able to worship as a Christian by living a life of service. There are many Christians living in this environment today, to list a few would be in the service of our country, in prison etc:. The OT (Torah) regulations had very little tolerance in the area of not performing rituals. If I had available search engines for his books I would have an ability to confirm yea or nay.
    Am I to assume that by your asking me to provide evidence to support my conclusion, that you do not have evidence which would refute my conclusion? The view here can be associated with two persons with differing backgrounds seeing from a different prospective. Did I miss some posts which might have projected a concept more in line with Mr. Wright believing that, “we live lives of worship”, worshiping outside the assembled rituals?

  16. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I really have a problem with this statement reflecting Paul’s concerns , as being suggested here. It appears to me that this is Mr. Wright’s comment in the brackets.
    “Sin does indeed have dire consequences: “People who do things like that deserve death” (1: 32). But his point is much wider than the fate of the human beings in question, important though that is (as 2: 1– 16 makes clear). [Paul’s concern is that the Creator’s whole plan is put in jeopardy by the failure of humans to worship him alone. Only through that worship will they be sustained and fruitful in their vocation to look after his world].”
    How can that comment fit with Paul’s later communications here. Noticing his terminology regarding [sin]. What am I seeing out of ordinary understanding of text here? I understand that the phrase above is placing worship as the failure. Are we supposed to redefine the term sin to worship?

    (Rom 3:20 ESV) For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

    (Rom 4:8 ESV) blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

    (Rom 5:12 ESV) Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

    (Rom 5:13 ESV) for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

    (Rom 5:16 ESV) And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.

    (Rom 5:20 ESV) Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

    (Rom 5:21 ESV) so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    (Rom 6:1 ESV) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

    (Rom 6:2 ESV) By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

    (Rom 6:6 ESV) We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

    (Rom 6:7 ESV) For one who has died has been set free from sin.

    (Rom 6:10 ESV) For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

    (Rom 6:11 ESV) So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    (Rom 6:12 ESV) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.

    (Rom 6:13 ESV) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

    (Rom 6:14 ESV) For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

    (Rom 6:15 ESV) What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

    (Rom 6:16 ESV) Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

    (Rom 6:17 ESV) But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

    (Rom 6:18 ESV) and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

    (Rom 6:20 ESV) For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

    (Rom 6:22 ESV) But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

    (Rom 6:23 ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    (Rom 7:7 ESV) What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

    (Rom 7:8 ESV) But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

    (Rom 7:9 ESV) I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.

    (Rom 7:11 ESV) For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

    (Rom 7:13 ESV) Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

    (Rom 7:14 ESV) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

    (Rom 7:17 ESV) So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    (Rom 7:20 ESV) Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

    (Rom 7:23 ESV) but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

    (Rom 7:25 ESV) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

    (Rom 8:2 ESV) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

    (Rom 8:3 ESV) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,

    (Rom 8:10 ESV) But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

    (Rom 14:23 ESV) But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

  17. Dwight says:

    May I present Romans 1:16-23 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
    18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.”
    This is Paul leading off with an introduction to sin and the inherent problems of the Roman in a Roman culture, but this is his progression:
    1. The gospel of Christ=Salvation (after all he is talking to the saints in Rome)
    2. He connects righteousness with Faith. “The Just shall live by Faith”
    3. The wrath of God- all ungodliness and unrighteousness- “did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts”- worshipped idols, which was sinful

    If this is Wright’s understanding, then it sound correct, after all the main problem in Rome is the worship of pagan deities/idolatry and bowing down to their own desires of the flesh of which their were many in Rome that the Jew would not normally be involved with.

    This is not to say that the Jews at times didn’t do the above, but it wasn’t rampant as it was among the gentiles. The Jews largely held to the Law, which was against these things.

    But Paul does seem to argue that the saint lives by faith and worship God, while the alien sinner turned away from God in worship and sought other forms of worship, which leads to sin.

    Now once we get into Romans as Larry points out Paul attacks their problems with sin head on.

    And yet even in Romans 14:23 “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”
    So Paul seems to come full circle in his assessment of faith in God=righteousness, and then we get towards the end of the letter

    Rom 15 “and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.”10 And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” 11 And again:“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!”12 And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    The Jews seem to be having a problem “receiving one another” towards the gentiles and Paul here seems to be arguing for the gentiles to “glorify God for His mercy” and praise him, which it appears they aren’t doing.

    Yes, Paul deals primarily with sin in Romans, but he does lay out a connection between lack of worship to God and sin. The gentiles didn’t worship and thus were involved with every sin imaginable dedicated to their deities, while the Jews had the laws, which kept them from this.
    While the Jews sinned they were closer to righteousness by way of knowing the true God and having the law and yet could become further away simply by rejecting God in the form of Jesus.

    One of the main themes we read is that sin came through the Law and yet the law wasn’t only applicable to the Jews, as the gentiles were held to the sins of murder, adultery, fornications, etc. They didn’t have to worship at the Temple, and yet there was nothing keeping them from it by becoming a Jew, so the gentiles had access to God if they wanted to, but first they had to turn from their worship of their idols to the worship of God. All sin, but not all turn to God from the world and this is true today. Only the worship of God will bring us into righteousness.

  18. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    I don’t take NTW’s point to be that the only sin is a failure to worship God. Rather, he is saying that the failure to worship God leads to all other sin. This play out at several levels as you work through salvation history.

    For Gentiles with no Torah, they forgot about the true God, worshiped false gods, and wound up engaged in all sorts of dreadful sins — and approving them. Just as an example that would have been familiar to Jesus as well as Paul, the worshipers of Pan “worshiped” in bestiality with goats in heat.

    This is a point Paul makes very directly in Rom 1 —

    (Rom. 1:21-23 ESV) 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

    Now, in this case, Paul is addressing the spiritual history of the Gentile world. Beginning with Adam and then again with Noah, every human knew God — and they turned from God, no longer worshiped God, and became sinners.

    But the same history applies to the Jews, although along a different path. Under Moses, they all knew God. But by the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, Israel and Judah had turned into idolaters — despite having God’s prophets and the Temple among themselves. And the result of their idolatry was sin.

    By the time Jesus appears, the Jews are in Exile and under the curses of the Torah and the Gentiles have utterly forgotten God.

    “Worship” in this context is not meeting weekly in a wood frame meeting house to engage in Five Acts. It’s glorifying, praising, and honoring God — which the ancients did many ways but especially through sacrifice. Most OT “worship” passages are about sacrifice. But Paul does not dwell on the mode of worship at all. It’s the fact that the people have forgotten God and have chosen to worship idols — by whatever means. It’s about the OBJECT of worship; not the MODE of worship.

    And so Paul concludes the book,

    (Rom. 15:8-12 ESV) 8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.” 10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.” 12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

    Jesus became the servant of the Jews to prove that God keeps his word (to Abraham and the other patriarchs) — so that “the Gentiles might glorify (worship) God for his mercy (in forgiving the Gentiles).” And then Paul quotes a series of OT passages about Gentiles worshiping God.

    Again — not talking particularly about the assembly. Rather, as in 12:1, he is speaking of how they live their entire lives — as worshipers of the One True God. When we worship God — and know he whom we worship well — then we may sin, but our lives will be oriented in the direction of our worship –> toward God, and so sin won’t drive our lives. Service to God will drive our lives.

    So it is an utterly false dichotomy to insist that it’s EITHER sin OR worship. It’s escaping sin through truthful worship.

    And why is this a problem for you? What is it about Wright’s point that false worship leads to sin that bothers you so much? I really don’t understand.

  19. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    You’re mixing apples and oranges. You wrote, “I have never seen a message that would lead me to believe that he accepts that an individual who was not able to meet with an assembly of believers on a regular basis is still able to worship as a Christian by living a life of service.” Since much of what Paul writes about is the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, why on earth would he speak in terms of meeting regularly in an assembly of believers to worship? It’s just not his subject matter. As noted in recent comment to you, Paul is arguing much of his case from salvation HISTORY.

    When he finally gets around to daily Christian living in Rom 12 – 15, he is much more concerned with TABLE FELLOWSHIP (we’ve not gotten there yet but Rom 14-15 in the Greek seems to be about hospitality among Christians in their homes, likely centered on the AGAPE or love feast) than an assembly in which to sing. He does talk a little about singing, in Rom 15:9, but that’s from a psalm and speaking of spontaneous, personal worship more than anything structured.

    Interestingly, in one of Paul’s most detailed, in-depth epistles about Christianity, he barely mentions the assembly at all, and when he does, he emphasizes the LOVE FEAST (which we don’t practice) and personal, spontaneous worship (which many practice but few teach). That is, Paul doesn’t see Christianity in terms of Five Acts of Worship and a weekly assembly focused on preaching and singing. He is focused on the common meal (which was likely combined with communion at that time).

    But when he says “worship,” he is not speaking of rites and rituals so much as the orientation of our servanthood. Whom do we serve? The word translated “worship” in Rom 12:1 can also be translated service. And I would take the rest of c. 12 as examples of how one truly worships God — by using spiritual gifts to his glory, by refusing vengeance, etc. It’s the virtuous life lived in honor of God. It’s being a living sacrifice.

  20. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    When I presented this comment, I have never seen a message that would lead me to believe that he accepts that an individual who was not able to meet with an assembly of believers on a regular basis is still able to worship as a Christian by living a life of service. It was not in reference to Paul’s teachings. This was an observance of the writings that you have presented from Mr. Wright.

    I have been contemplating this questions that you have asked, “And why is this a problem for you? What is it about Wright’s point that false worship leads to sin that bothers you so much? I really don’t understand.” I will explain the flow of events, as God’s Word begins to inform us of the creation and events following, Adam and Eve were formed and given life. Then were given instructions which were disobeyed, (it could be assumed that prior to this disobedience they were worshiping God, but we are not told). God pronounced a judgement upon them because of the disobedience. There is no accusation that they were not or had neglected to worship him. Do we then assume that they refused to give him praise or worship after being driven from the garden? I will offer a message that appears to me to set the stage for the living relationship between God and man.
    Gen 4:1-7 ESV Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” (2) And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. (3) In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, (4) and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, (5) but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. (6) The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? (7) If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
    There has been no communication at this point in time between man and God that would suggest that God had forgiven man for sin or that man had even asked to be forgiven. But, Eve definitely praised God for his help in acquiring her son. Then we read of each of the two sons offering sacrifice to God. Abel’s was accepted and Cain’s rejected, but both were worshiping. Sin was again committed by Cain, but there was no mention of a lack of worshiping God. The result is that while worshiping sin was the act which separated men from God. God states that, its (sin) desire is for you, but you must rule over it. It is man’s responsibility to rule over sin, which is tempting man.
    I do not understand the portrayal of the events indicating that man failed to worship, he fell victim to the deception of Satan (sin). I can see a very fine line between being deceived and a failure to worship, but it is very evident that Adam and Eve did not abandon worship of God to the worshiping of Satan.
    This is where I see a misapplication of the terms. I hear worship was neglected first and that lead to sin. The application I see is that even while worshiping, sin is possible and God explains that we have a responsibility, “to rule over it”, exactly as he instructed Cain.

    This is somewhat like the chicken and the egg story, and some may say that where there is worship sin cannot succeed. Some promote that worship will keep sin away. But, that is not consistent with this history. To restate a message above in the order I see in scriptures, would be sin is committed prior to false worship. False worship is a product of sin, not vice-versa.

  21. Dwight says:

    Larry, the way I see it is if you don’t worship God you will sin and if you sin you are not forgiven, because you do not worship God. But if you worship God you may sin, but chances are you won’t and if you do and seek God, because you worship him, God will forgive you.
    I think of Nineveh who was basically pagan, but they turned to God due to Jonah’s preaching, so God showed mercy. Nineveh did two things 1. they turned to God in worship 2. turned from sin.
    Now while I note that David was a worshipper of God and sinned, I don’t think David was thinking of God while he sinned and if he was engaged in worship while he sinned, then why did he sin, how could he.
    Worship is a heart condition, much like love is. If you worship someone you will reflect that in an action of worship.
    In this I am drawn to Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
    Mammon is riches or treasure.
    Ideally we would say you cannot serve God and Satan, but here Luke draws us to an earthly endeavor. The point is loyalty. Worship should result in loyalty and keep one from sinning.
    David sinned because he sought mammon in the form of sexual pleasure, even while knowing what God wanted.

  22. Dwight says:

    An addendum to my previous post:
    We should be thankful that God is patient and kind and is not willing that any one should perish, especially one of His children. This I where mercy and grace come in. God overlooks our weaknesses, especially when we recognize that we are indeed weak. God is looking for people who seek Him and even when they sin, they return to Him. Such was David. David was above all a worshipper, flawed, who had bouts of self, but God was patient with David because God knew David’s heart and ability to change and bow down before God.

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    Paul’s argument that man failed to worship God and so fell into sin is a generality speaking of the entirety of the human race. The Bible records exceptions, and Paul was surely very aware of these exceptions but doesn’t take the time to chart them all out. Nonetheless, it’s clear that he reads Genesis in terms of “failure to worship God” leads to “dissolute, sinful lives.” The cure is for the Gentiles to be brought back into the worship of God, which Jesus accomplished through the gospel.

    Now, “worship” in English and “worship” in Hebrew and Greek carry different textures and flavors. As you note, in the OT, “worship” often referred to sacrifice on an altar, whereas in the NT the word is usually used of Christian living (Rom 12:1) rather than the assembly. And yet in church language, we use “worship” mainly to mean “perform five acts in the Sunday morning gathering” — which is very, very different from the OT and NT use of the word.

    Part of the texture of biblical “worship” is the fact that the same word is often translated “service,” and refers to serving God as a priest might serve the deity of his temple — through ritual — while the NT has precious little ritual and in fact tends to de-ritualize our worship/service.

    In the scriptures, the question is often asked, “Which god do you serve?” referring to the ancient assumption that all mankind must surely serve one or another god. The “service” in mind is whatever that particular god requires — whether it’s sacrifice, ritual, prayer, or whatever. That is, the words don’t specify what is or isn’t “worship” or “service” but speak more often in terms of which god is being worshiped or served.

    (Jos. 24:14-16 ESV) 14 “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods,

    Therefore, when Paul says that worshiping the wrong god (idolatry) leads to sin, he’s speaking not of the assembly, or five acts, or any particular ritual. It’s to which god you are loyal. And while we see some worship of God after the Fall of Man in Gen 3 and after the Flood, it’s obvious that humanity (in general) quickly forgot God. You don’t see the Ancient Near East covered with temples to YHWH! Rather, archaeologists find pagan temples in all places and all ages, except where the Jews lived.

    Were there exceptions? Of course. And yet nearly the entire planet gave up on God and worshiped other deities. That’s both the biblical and historical record. Paul is clearly right as to that point.

    What does God want to do about it? Offer the Gentiles the ability to repent through faith in Jesus and so worship the true God — leading to the defeat of sin by the power of the Spirit in hearts of the Gentiles.

    But this is far more about being in submission to Jesus than attending a worship gathering. The solution isn’t four-part, a cappella singing and a sermon. It’s submission to Jesus (serving him) and yielding to the work of the Spirit.

    Should we therefore forsake the assemblies? No. But neither should we imagine that the assemblies are the point of it all. They aren’t.

    That is, in the very broad view, the Northern Kingdom was defeated by the Assyrians for serving the wrong gods.

    The Southern Kingdom was defeated by the Babylonians for serving the wrong gods.

    The Gentiles were unsaved because they served the wrong gods.

    The Jews who tried to follow Torah and so be saved were unsaved because they served God while misunderstanding his nature so severely that they didn’t see him in Jesus. By not recognizing Jesus as YHWH, they’d missed God. They were also guilty of preferring nationalist revolt to being a light to the nations by living the Torah in peace with their neighbors –even their conquerors. The SOTM is quite clear that God wanted them to “turn the other cheek” and “go the extra mile” with the Romans, and yet they preferred armed revolution. And so they worshiped a false god by the correct name. And were damned.

    The solution? Submission to Jesus and yielding to his Spirit. Becoming living sacrifices. True worship.

  24. Dwight says:

    It is interesting that although we think of the Passover as worship, God calls it service. The priest who were involved in the Temple worship were in service to God. So it should be as no surprise that our service is worship, but service includes not that which is done in assembly, but which is done in life. We are to be a priest and a living sacrifice and the temple of God…we are to be built for worship and service. But we sin and thus must turn to God for forgiveness.

  25. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    A concept that is not normally expressed about mankind which the Bible refers to regularly is expressed many times by God. That man has a nature which is “evil”. Some of the concepts I am providing are dealing with a turning from true worship of God, but there are many which man has not expressed his faith in another object than God. He still believes that he is serving God but is in rebellion to his commands. Sound familiar, yes there are many in this world who have changed some of God’s instructions to suit themselves and do not even understand the distance the “evil” has distanced them from God. I believe that mankind still does evil from his human nature, and does not apply it to a rejection of God. By applying the concept that man rejects God by actions of worshiping another god or object, until an individual has been convicted of an outright redirect of his worship, he can believe that he is not in jeopardy of his relationship with God/Christ. I also believe that Satan’s performance is just like God expressed to Cain. Gen 4:7 ESV If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
    This quote, “The solution? Submission to Jesus and yielding to his Spirit. Becoming living sacrifices. True worship.” I will admit, if executed to its fullness will eliminate the inherit “evil” which God identifies in Gen 6:5. But, isn’t it easy to see how many followers of God today do not accept the fact that within them is still a human element which they must deal with just as God instructed Cain. This element is forever close to each of us, worship helps us to continually overpower that force. The Spirit surely will help but, if it totally controlled the natural evil within a man, then no man could ever fall away from God on his own desire. Evil intentions permeate many of the examples of the relationships between man and God shown in the scriptures. Remember that God’s message to man was that eating of the tree gave man a knowledge of good and evil. To me that cannot be reduced to just one of these two either worship or non-worship.

    (Gen 6:5 ESV) The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
    (Gen 8:21 ESV) And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
    Read the story and it will be apparent that Joseph and his brothers understood that evil could be performed without abandoning the worship of the Lord.
    Gen 44:4-9 ESV They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? (5) Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.'” (6) When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. (7) They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! (8) Behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? (9) Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants.”
    Gen 50:14-20 ESV After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father. (15) When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” (16) So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: (17) ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. (18) His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” (19) But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? (20) As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

    Exo 23:1-3 ESV “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. (2) You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, (3) nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit.

    Exo 32:11-14 ESV But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? (12) Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. (13) Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'” (14) And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

    Lev 5:1-5 ESV “If anyone sins in that he hears a public adjuration to testify, and though he is a witness, whether he has seen or come to know the matter, yet does not speak, he shall bear his iniquity; (2) or if anyone touches an unclean thing, whether a carcass of an unclean wild animal or a carcass of unclean livestock or a carcass of unclean swarming things, and it is hidden from him and he has become unclean, and he realizes his guilt; (3) or if he touches human uncleanness, of whatever sort the uncleanness may be with which one becomes unclean, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and realizes his guilt; (4) or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these; (5) when he realizes his guilt in any of these and confesses the sin he has committed,

    Num 32:10-14 ESV And the LORD’s anger was kindled on that day, and he swore, saying, (11) ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me, (12) none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD.’ (13) And the LORD’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone. (14) And behold, you have risen in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men, to increase still more the fierce anger of the LORD against Israel!

    Deu 1:34-39 ESV “And the LORD heard your words and was angered, and he swore, (35) ‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, (36) except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!’ (37) Even with me the LORD was angry on your account and said, ‘You also shall not go in there. (38) Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. (39) And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

    Deu 4:24-26 ESV For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (25) “When you father children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a carved image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, so as to provoke him to anger, (26) I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess. You will not live long in it, but will be utterly destroyed.

    Deu 17:1-5 ESV “You shall not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the LORD your God. (2) “If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing his covenant, (3) and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, (4) and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, (5) then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones.

    Deu 17:7-12 ESV The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (8) “If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns that is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place that the LORD your God will choose. (9) And you shall come to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision. (10) Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place that the LORD will choose. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you. (11) According to the instructions that they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside from the verdict that they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left. (12) The man who acts presumptuously by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.

    Deu 19:18-21 ESV The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, (19) then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (20) And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. (21) Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

    Deu 24:7 ESV “If a man is found stealing one of his brothers of the people of Israel, and if he treats him as a slave or sells him, then that thief shall die. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

    Deu 28:20 ESV “The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.

    Deu 30:15-18 ESV “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. (16) If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. (17) But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, (18) I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.

    Deu 31:17-21 ESV Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ (18) And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods. (19) “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. (20) For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. (21) And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.”

    Deu 31:29 ESV For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”

  26. Dwight says:

    Larry, you wrote “But, isn’t it easy to see how many followers of God today do not accept the fact that within them is still a human element which they must deal with just as God instructed Cain. This element is forever close to each of us, worship helps us to continually overpower that force.”
    Which I believe to be true.
    The scriptures connect sin with the flesh many times and even the three desires “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and pride of life” are flesh inspired and thus we sin and we will sin.
    The question is where do we go from here?
    God.
    It could be argued that we turn from sin to righteousness, but this still means turning to God wherein righteousness dwells.
    In other words it is impossible to stop sinning without first turning to God.
    This I believe is worship.
    Yes, Deut is written about sin, but it was written by God as He gives them instructions.
    They had to first listen to God, as worshippers, in order to get and obey these instructions to stop sinning.
    Moving on to the NT. We might stop “sinning”, but unless we seek Jesus, we are still lost in sin. And walking in the Spirit which God supplies will keep us from the works of the flesh.
    Thus I feel that it is impossible to

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