- Conscience, the Mosaic Law and genetic engineering
- Dualism of the world, law and human psyche
- The problem of the body
- The essence of the New Covenant according to Jer. 31:33
- "No more shall every man teach his neighbor"
- Priesthood of the New Covenant
- The sacrifice and symbols of the New Covenant
Conscience, the Mosaic Law and genetic engineering
The universal principle of the divine law says: "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:4 NKJV). Therefore, the central theme of the Bible is the answer to the question, what needs to be done so that souls could cease to sin. There is no doubt that humanity in the current condition is unable to preserve the divine law, "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10 NKJV). Apart from the fact that the Word of God describes the effective tool for reforming humanity, it also descibes tools which proved to be ineffective. And for example, ineffective turned out to be a tool in the form of conscience. "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, (15) who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them" (Rom. 2:14,15 NKJV). And yet, writes Paul, "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" (Rom. 1:21 NKJV).
Therefore, conscience is an imperfect instrument because it is subject to degeneration. Ineffective was also genetic engineering in the times of Noah. The result of intercourse of God's angels with women was not only not perfect, but quite to the contrary, "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:4,5 NKJV). Ineffective finally turned out to be the Law of God transferred by Moses on Mount Sinai, for "the law made nothing perfect" (Heb. 7:19 NKJV). Paul, however, adds in the same verse: "on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God". What God introduced in place of the Law Covenant to enable man to approach Himself, is the New Covenant. This is the correct tool that reforms the mind and character to fulfill the divine law. "For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified" (Rom. 2:13 NKJV).
Dualism of the world, law and human psyche
The question is how to understand the 'doing of the law' in practice. Reality has a static element (repetitive) and a dynamic one. This system corresponds to the law system that can be divided into a set of principles and a set of regulations. Regulations define how to proceed in repetitive situations; principles are guideslines to determine how to proceed in new situations, so far unknown. This dual governance of the world is responsible in turn for the duality of the human psyche, which consists of the conscious and the subconscious. These two systems are responsible for how we react in both known and new situations. The subconscious is an automatic system operating on the basis of action-reaction: when a known stimulus appears, the body will issue a reaction that it has assigned to it in the nervous system. Because we talk about repetitive reactions, the subconscious determines what we call the character - I know the nature of the person when I am able to predict one's reaction in certain circumstances.
The subconscious is therefore responsible for responding to well-known situations; consciousness for responding in new situations - in situations that we do not have a ready answer for, and taking decisions requires analysis of information, forecasts of possible scenarios for the development of events and taking compromises. In other words, to deal with the constantly changing reality, we need conscious reasoning. With regard to the law, consciousness works on the basis of principles, taking decisions which principles are applicable and which will have priority. The structure of the regulation, on the other hand, in its zero-one application corresponds to the mechanical activity of the subconscious: when it comes to a specific situation, proceed in a specific way. It is worth noting here that obviously the New Testament does not use the concept of consciousness and subconsciousness because these are modern terms. Due to the importance of the problem, however, the Word of God refers to it often, but with different terminology, of which I wrote in the lecture New creation and transformation of the inward man.
Consciousness is referred to in the Scripture as intellect (reason, gr. nous) or spirit (gr. pneuma). Especially the second term is important because it shows the communication of reason (spirit) of man with God's spirit. Our Lord says that "you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (Jn. 3:8 NKJV). This characteristic concerns not only spirit in the sense of a spiritual being, but also spirit in the sense of consciousness. One of the meanings of the spirit is the doctrine of the truth (1 Jn. 4:1). One born of the spirit has interest in knowledge of Biblical truth, although he/she is unable to say, "where it comes from and where it goes", i.e. we do not know why one has a desire for researching and knowing the Word of God, and others do not. As we do not know where the desire will take tomorrow, in a week, or in a month - what spiritual topics will become of interest and what the spirit will let you understand. And yet, despite this, as born of the spirit "you hear the sound of it" - you allow yourself to be led to the truth and you are able to see it and understand.
The problem of the body
The subconscious is particularly often called 'the body' in the New Testament (gr. sarks or soma). This term testifies to the fact that the procedural instructions held by the subconscious are recorded literally in our body - in the nervous system. There is no doubt that in the light of the Bible, both of these decision-making systems are defective from the point of view of justice. One must therefore consider what is the right method of their repair. I wrote about the fact that some measures did not work. In the perspective of the spirit-body dualism, it can be clearly visible why they failed: because they aimed at the reform of the body, omitting the spirit. This applies particularly to genetic engineering pursued by angels in the times of Noah, but also applies to the laws of Moses, which addressed the body through its zero-one regulation structure attempting to work out (subconscious) habits of specific actions.
The closest to a comprehensive approach to the problem is the conscience. Although it resides in the subconscious and orders something or forbids something, at the end of the process it forces the action of reason, which, on the basis of the indications of conscience, specifies the doctrine for the given action: rationalizes why this should be followed and not otherwise. Such a direction of action could not bring the desired result for the same reason why body instructions are not sufficient to respond to reality: the body reacts according to a permanent, predefined algorithm; reality is variable and constantly puts us into new situations for which no algorithm has yet been created. Therefore, in a narrow range, conscience can shape immature thinking. In the long run, however, it is thinking that must shape conscience. Knowledge of the truth combined with the will of its application will allow one to interpret every new situation in the light of principles and thus work out the right direction to go. Repeated action, in turn, will shape the desired algorithm of proceedings in the character.
The body is not a synonym of evil as such. The problem of the body, however, is that it works according to predefined instructions for proceedings, which 1) do not include new situations, 2) without the control of consciousness can be used in situations where they should not be applied and 3) can be automatically fired where for maintaining the principles of justice reason should first analyze and decide. The problem of the body is therefore the problem of the spirit - the problem of lack of control over the body by reason, which has the knowledge to interpret events and the will to use it. Hence the New Testament also uses the concept of the Body of Christ - justified character, which is shaped in believers in the image of the Lord (Rom. 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 12:12,13; Col. 1:24-29). The body is a reaction system equally necessary as reason is. Without it, each routine situation would require (unnecessary) time and effort to take a reaction. The essence of justification is the proper shape and location of the body in the hierarchy.
The essence of the New Covenant according to Jer. 31:33
Because eventually the problem of fulfilling God's law is a problem of the spirit, and only by extension a problem of the body, one should expect that the New Covenant as a divine tool of justification will address the spirit as a first-class reform object. And it is so, as testified by Jer. 31:31-34, where God has promised: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: (32) Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: (33) But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (34) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (OHIB).
The essence of the New Covenant is fulfillment of the law. The commandments received on stone boards under the Old Covenant Israel did not keep, which is why God announces a change: under the New Covenant, the commandments will be put in "their inward parts" and "in their hearts". Inward parts mean every corner of the body and this is also the goal: the character of man in the smallest corner is to correspond to the divine principles. But to achieve this goal, God 'writes the law in the hearts'. In this wording, there is a double thought. On the one hand, the written page literally means transfer of content, and therefore the transfer of teaching. On the other hand, the heart is in the Bible the symbol of will, and therefore contains an element rather affective than cognitive. It would be natural to expect that God will write his law on forehead, symbolizing the cognitive authorities. Meanwhile, God writes them on the heart, which guides attention to fulfilling the law rather than knowing it. Therefore, the law in the heart means not so much transfer of information to the mind as the will to proceed with according to the truth.
The apostle Paul is clear about what God puts into the human heart. In Rom. 5:5 we read: "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (NKJV). And if love, then also the will. The apostle John writes that "this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (1 Jn. 2:5, 5:3 NKJV). The love of God is therefore the desire to exercise God's law put into our consciousness. Conscious and persistent practicing of the truth is in turn reflected in character as a seal of the spirit that shapes our spiritual bodies (2 Cor. 1:21,22). In this way, by the action of the symbolic heart, the Lord's law penetrates into "the inward parts", as stated in Jer. 31:33. The collation of heart and interiors that we find in the abovementioned verse, thus shows the logic of creating man on God's image. The image of God is His law. The character of man fixed in the body is a plastic material that can be changed by shaping habits, repeatability of activities. Therefore, the will is necessary - conscious pursuit - to fulfill God's law because only the consistence of deeds can develop new features (new image) in character.
"No more shall every man teach his neighbor"
The will of behaviour consistent with the truth is therefore an essential condition for the reform of the character and of personality as such. Obedience to God's law, however, assumes its knowledge - one cannot obey something one does not know. The Lord Jesus clearly shows the importance of this condition in his Sermon on the Mountain: "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light" (Mt. 6:22,23 NKJV). The body reflects the brightness of the glory of the Lord, when the character traits that we develop are compatible with the pattern of the seal of God's spirit. But the condition is: "If your eye is good". The eye is the organ of perception, but the authority of perception is reason. The body will therefore be clear/ full of light when the eye of understanding is good - when it perceives the truth in a precise and courageous manner, not afraid to verify mistaken views. The Greek haplus, with which the Gospel describes the eye, literally means 'simple' or 'single' and such is to be our perception of the truth - yes-yes, no-no (Mt. 5:37).
Therefore, from the point of view of lawful behaviour, knowledge of the truth is the ground of participation in the New Covenant. That is why God promises by the prophet Jeremiah, that this knowledge will be made available to his people: "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 31:34 OHIB). The knowledge of which the prophet speaks is more than reasonable assessment. The structure of the statement indicates that this knowledge has a finite aspect. Meanwhile, the eye of understanding that Jesus tells about, serves ongoing discernment of truth. Similarly in Jn. 17:3 the Lord says that eternal life is cognition (continuous aspect) - cognition seen as a process, not as a state. The New Testament distinguishes these two aspects. The cognition which is a domain of the eye (understanding/ reason/ consciousness), is a process because we react all the time to signals that reach us from the world. The cognition which consists in reflection of the principles of God's law in character, is a state because it includes repetitive behavior algorithms.
This twofoldedness of cognition is also reflected in Greek. The cognition which is a domain of consciousness is referred to as gnosis, while the subconscious cognition is epignosis - reflection of the truth in character. Because the prerequisite for epignosis is the possession of the gnosis (the spirit seals the pattern of the truth), it describes the fullness of cognition covering consciousness (reason) and subconsciousness (character). Epignosis is the the image of Jesus Christ in us (1 Cor. 2:16). Writing about knowledge, Jeremiah describes the epignosis - the fullness of cognition which covers the entire personality. Its condition, as further informs the prophet in Jer. 31:34, is forgiveness of sins. The Hebrew salach that has been translated as 'forgive' etymologically means 'raising from its place' or 'taking away'. The sealing with the pattern of the truth that the spirit performs, literally takes our sins away because the new character shaped on the image of Jesus Christ reacts according to the principles of the divine law.
Priesthood of the New Covenant
The New Covenant can therefore be defined as a relationship of God with man consisting in provision of the spirit. The love of truth, which is poured into symbolic hearts of the elect, enkindles the desire to learn about the Word of God and apply it, and thus changes not only the way of thinking, but also reshapes the body (of character). And here the next important thread about the New Covenant appears. The development of new character traits means that the existing ones must be removed - speaking in a symbolic language, the old man's body must be put to death so that the new creature can live. The sacrifice of the body, in turn, is one of the basic activities performed by priests under the Old Covenant. The Tabernacle under the Mosaic Law is in this sense a type for the New Covenant; "It was symbolic for the present time" (Heb. 9:8,9 NKJV). The structure of the Tabernacle (and later the temple), its equipment, ceremonies and priestly service represented the experience of antitypical priests under the New Covenant.
The topic of the typical importance of the Law of Moses in full extent goes beyond the scope of the current lecture. At the same time, in the context of the New Covenant, it is impossible to not refer to an outline to the antitypical priesthood. In the lecture on The people, Levites and priests of the Gospel Age, I wrote that the division of the bodily Israel into three above mentioned groups represents the division of spiritual Israel depending on their relation to the truth (Rom. 2:28,29). The priesthood represents those from among the elect who not only experience the baptism of the body referred to in Rom. 6:3-5, but also baptism in the spirit by the operation of the new creation (the mind subjected to the action of the love of truth) towards knowledge of 'width, length, height and depth' of God's Words (Eph. 3:16-19). The priests of the New Covenant are those who receive from God "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him", according to the prayer of the apostle Paul written in Eph. 1:16-18.
The work of priests with the spirit and body finds a symbolic reflection in the antitypical Tabernacle, respectively in the Sanctuary (first part of the Tabernacle) and the courtyard. In the Sanctuary, there was a table with showbread which priests consumed in the light of the golden lampstand. This is an adequate representation of the new creation - the spirit of the love of truth enlightening the mind while feeding on the bread of God's Word. The golden censer, which was also a part of the equipment of the Sanctuary, showed that such spiritual work of the new creature is pleasant to the Lord. The courtyard in turn represented the work with the body. There was a basin in which the priest washed before taking service, just like the antitypical priests under the New Covenant wash their bodies in repentance. The copper altar served burning sacrificial animals. Their offered bodies illustrated the bodies of the consecrated believers under the New Covenant, sacrificed at work with and for the Word of God. The copper of the altar symbolizes human perfection and thus shows the process of justification in which believers take part in Christ.
The sacrifice and symbols of the New Covenant
The separateness of basin - copper altar symbolism is important from the point of view of the work of the new creation. The basin represents baptisms - immersion into death of the old man (former character) with its mechanisms of response defective from the point of view of God's law. When this happens, we enter the process of justification - the actual reform. In this process, we become a sacrifice appropriate to be laid down on the copper altar, in line with the words of the apostle Paul: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1 NKJV). The body is therefore not the value of the sacrifice, but a tool for performing 'reasonable service', because for this purpose we have been appointed: "you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9 NKJV). The place of performing the proper antitypical service of the priesthood is therefore the Sanctuary. The courtyard represents what must be offered to perform this service.
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was accomplished according to the same logic. The unquestionable fact instituted in the light of the Bible is that he offered his body, in accordance with the prophetic announcement quoted by Paul in Heb. 10:5-7. However, also according to this fragment, the Lord's body was to be a tool for performing the will of the Father: "Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me — To do Your will, O God" (NKJV). The doctrine according to which the saving value of the sacrifice was to give life in exchange for the life of Adam is absolutely unbiblical because the essence of the sacrifice must be distinguished from the measures that secured it. The aim of redemption was for Christ to "bear witness to the truth" in the antitypical Sanctuary (Jn. 18:37; Rom. 3:25,26). The life/ body sacrifice was a consequence of this service. The testimony that the Lord issued consisted not only in what he had to say, but also in the example of full obedience he gave in the face of death. In this way, he provided the complete price for redemption. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous" (Mt. 27:46, Rom. 5:18,19 NKJV).
The apostle Paul writes in Eph. 1:7,8 that God gave the abundance of His grace of redemption "in all wisdom and prudence" (NKJV). Accordingly, we eat bread and drink wine as symbols of our participation in the New Covenant (Lk. 22:19,20). The bread represents the body, but also the Word of God (Mt. 4:4; Hebr. 5:11-14). By eating broken bread, we symbolize our acceptance of the teachings that 'break' the body of character, making us the body of Christ (Rom. 12:4,5). Blood is a symbol of life (Gen. 9:4). When drinking wine, we not only commemorate the life sacrifice of our Lord, but also show the sacrifice we make, allocating our own resources for the sake of the Gospel instead of achieving the objectives of the current existence (1 Cor. 11:26). Ultimately, the aim of the calling of the Gospel and participation in the New Covenant is not the temporal life, but the future life in glory with the Lord (more details on the symbolism of bread and wine as well as the way of celebrating the Memorial of our Lord's death, can be found in the lecture Lord's supper).