The true religion of ancient Judaism was handed down by God through His servant Moses, but was corrupted by evil men who sought to justify themselves in their own sight, and who taught others to do the same. In the same way evil men have corrupted Christianity, which is the true fulfillment of Judaism, and by which God justifies men through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Men do this by turning Christianity into a works based religious system.
In order to see this truth most clearly, we need to look intently at the person of Christ, which can be done by observing and meditating upon the definition given by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi. To help in this activity I have first provided the passage as it is interpreted by an English translation, and then by an expanded version of a fuller meaning behind the Greek words.
“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:6-11
Who although at the beginning He was there, and in the form by which His external appearance was God, He did not go before to rule or desire regal power and a chief place among the leaders or seat of counsel among the spokesman of this present world. He had Equality with the supreme Deity and by which He existed eternally, but He did not act to seize or hold fast to it, but emptied and laid aside equality in the form of God and made void and deprived Himself of the force and rendered Himself vain and useless and made of no effect His infinite attributes; He emptied Himself, and took to Himself, with no violence, the form by which a person could see Him as a slave, and by which He had been made after the likeness and representation and resemblance that amounted to the identity of a human being, with the added notion of weakness with reference to body and soul, which is conformed to the nature of God. In behavior, practice, lifestyle, manner of life and as comprising everything in a person that strikes the senses, as in figure, discourse, and actions. He appeared as a human being, and with the added notion of weakness He made Himself low, and humbled Himself in condition, and reduced Himself to meaner circumstances, lower rank, and abased Himself below others who were honored, and humbled Himself by living depressed of soul, modest, and assumed a manner devoid of all pride. He came into existence, and began to appear in history as one who came on the stage of men and appeared in public with miracles that He performed, as one who gave ear and was obedient, until the death of His body, that separation both natural and violent of the soul and body, by which the life on earth is ended by the power of death, with the implied idea of future misery in hell, which has been true since the abode of the dead was conceived. The nether world is a place very dark, and equivalent to the region of thickest darkness, and figuratively a region enveloped in the darkness of ignorance and sin, and the loss of that life which alone is worthy of the name. The misery of His soul arose from sin, which normally begins on earth but lasts and increases after the death of the body in hell. The miserable state of the wicked dead remain in hell, and in the widest sense death comprising all the miseries arising from sin, as well as physical death at the loss of life that should be consecrated to God and blessed in him on earth, but instead to be followed by wretchedness in hell.
Wherefore and on account of these things, the Godhead, first, second, and third persons of the trinity, who refer to the things of God, including His counsels, interests, and things due Him, and whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble Him in any way as vice-regent, magistrate and judge exalted Him to the highest rank, and power, and raised Him to supreme majesty and extolled Him to the most high, which is exalted beyond measure, and did something pleasant and agreeable to Him. God favored and gratified Him, He showed Himself gracious, kind, and benevolent to Him, and granted Him forgiveness and pardon, and restored Him to another place, and preserved Him who was in peril, and acknowledged Him with the proper names, and the name used to cover everything of thought or feeling that is aroused in the mind by mentioning, hearing, and remembering His rank, authority, interests, pleasure, commands, excellencies, and deeds that are reckoned by His name; and by reason of his name He suffered, Therefore He gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, that is God is savior, the savior of mankind, God incarnate, and most accurately Lord, every knee will bend and bow to honor and worship Him, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess, profess, and acknowledge openly and joyfully to His honor, and celebrate with praise, and profess that He did do what He promised, and that to Jesus Christ the anointed Messiah belongs power to decide as master, Lord, possessor and disposer of all things, who has control of all persons in His state, the owner, and sovereign prince, chief, and emperor; and His title of honor is expressive of respect and reverence with which His servants will greet Him as Master, which is the title given to God and Messiah.
In my next blog I will examine how the Christian can, in subtle ways, be sidetracked from a pure and simple devotion to Christ, and if he is not careful, allow his true Christian faith to be turned into a works righteousness also.