The Dividing Line

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

There is a ridge of moral bankruptcy that is found in the path of the fool. Fraught with peril on every side, one step off and the tumble toward the bottom seems to have no stopping point. The enemy wants nothing more than to corrupt mankind and obstruct the work of God’s Creation.

Before I portray a doom like scenario any further, I have to lay the foundation for what this morally bankrupt ridge symbolizes; a balanced view of God and mankind’s responsibility toward Him.

The way people view God, the manner in which they respond to God’s leading, and the knowledge or lack of knowledge of His love and power affects the way people see the world.

There are two forms of thinking I want to center on, apophatic and cataphatic theology. You may be thinking, what on earth is he talking about, but bear with me and see if it becomes more clear.

Apophatic theology is a form of theological thinking or religious practice that attempts to approach God by negation. It is this via negativa form of thinking that focuses on what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.

Cataphatic theology approaches God by affirmations or positive statements concerning who God is or the quality of His nature. This via positiva form of thinking in the affirmative focuses on what we know of God and His goodness.

Via Negativa

Meditation, fasting, simplicity, solitude, submission, and confession are focused disciplines that drive the follower of Christ toward practices of worldly neglect and personal control. By stressing God’s absolute transcendence and unknowability the practitioner recognizes that God’s divine essence is beyond mankind’s ability to completely know or fully understand God.

1 Corinthians 2:16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

When a person recognizes their position before an unknowable God, they must first lower themself in the hope that God will lift them up and reveal His glory.

Job 22:21 “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”

The way God prospers is as broad as God’s reach. We must not limit ourselves to the superficial and accept all that God knows we need.

Maintaining a right understanding brings balance when considering any position before God. Although there is a negative element in respect to our relationship with God, hope is always present for the one who recognizes the shame of sin. It is in the low position before an exalted God where the sinner is raised up to new heights in Christ.

Psalm 25:9 “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”

Knowing and understanding the position a sinner brings before a Just and Holy God, brings a right understanding for moving into a walk with God.

Via Positiva

Certain disciplines such as prayer, study, service, worship, guidance, and celebration are practiced in light of a cataphatic(positive) approach toward God.

1 Chronicles 16:23 “Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim good news of His salvation from day to day.”

From the lips of the redeemed emanates praise back to the Redeemer. The good news of salvation is worth exalting.

Psalm 139:9-10 “If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.”

There is plenty in this world to bring darkness and foreboding. By remembering God’s promises, the follower of Christ walks in strength and security.

1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

God is love, recognizing the positive affirmation of God’s nature is to see God in the light of His countenance. Knowing that He is worthy to be praised and His love is expressed day to day in His people’s lives is to recognize His goodness each moment. To take a negative approach to God’s revelation would be to say, “God is not hateful”. How we see God should be reflected in how God has revealed Himself. God does reveal His goodness, His mercy, His favor, His blessing, and His love but if all His people do is focus on one aspect of His nature, they might miss the complete image He presents.

A Right Balance

Does God reveal Himself in the positive and the negative?

Malachi 2:16 “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with violence,” says the LORD of armies. “So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”

Then just a few verses later a revelation of God’s grace is shown….

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts.”

The law of the Lord is and was a practice in futility. Attempting to follow God’s law in the flesh was to discover how difficult the practice entailed. The law reveals sin, it shows people their depravity, it demonstrates man’s weakness, and establishes a standard that has proven impossible to follow for every person on earth except one—-Jesus.

Grace abounds from from this One because He recognized our depravity and weakness then so took our place. This act of the Messiah wasn’t new to God, it has always been in His nature to reveal His standard of righteousness and then provide a way to abide in that righteousness. The reminder of judgement precedes the promise of hope.

Deuteronomy 11:13-17 “So if you carefully obey the commandments I am giving you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will provide rain for your land in season, the autumn and spring rains, that you may gather your grain, new wine, and oil. And I will provide grass in the fields for your livestock, and you will eat and be satisfied. But be careful that you are not enticed to turn aside to worship and bow down to other gods, or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you. He will shut the heavens so that there will be no rain, nor will the land yield its produce, and you will soon perish from the good land that the LORD is giving you.”

Maintaining a proper perspective is crucial in having a balanced understanding of our position. Elevating man is a predominant trend in human history and in large part, error has risen from a false understanding.

How believers relate to God is formed in the light of a right perspective. Mankind is evil in nature, when people relate to God from a perspective centered on themselves, it is centered on the via negativa. Sinners bring nothing good to the table when it comes to bargaining for their souls, there is simply nothing they have to offer. Even life itself is not ours to give, we didn’t create life nor can we sustain life indefinitely— fate is left to chance for those who lack Truth.

When people assume a position before God in light of His countenance, the via positiva is in order.

The redeemed discover that—He is good * He is light * He is merciful * He is love * He is faithful * He is gracious * He is kind

I could go on all day long of the positive attributes of the Lord, praise God we will have all of eternity to relish in these truths. The Lord brings everything to the table of our surrender. He holds life in His hands. He created all and therefore controls everyone’s destiny. He won the victory over sin and death and holds life as a gift to all who submit to His authority.

Can the proud come to Him under His rules of engagement?

Humility is the key—a contrite spirit is necessary to accept all of who Jesus is and will determine whether a person is found acceptable in the day of reckoning.

For those who walk in the Spirit, they discover Jesus will remain faithful to the end.

The Lord will not forsake His anointed. The dividing line from negativity to positivity becomes victory to all who are found in Christ.

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