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Numbers 35:30-34

 

"If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses. But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death. And you shall accept no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the high priest. You shall not pollute the land in which you live, for blood pollutes the land, and no atonement can be made for the land for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of the one who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell, for I the LORD dwell in the midst of the people of Israel."

(ESV)


 

A New Walk

Robert Barnes, Confessor and Martyr 

30 July 2014

 

Years ago, upon reading Paul Ricouer's Symbolism of Evil, I was stunned by the idea that a great deal of the language we use to describe sin has its source in the words that describe external filth or dirt. I just simply never thought about it that way. I suppose I had soaked up the thing to which the symbolism of uncleanness and defilement pointed without thinking about the fact that those terms came from the business of outward dirt and its removal. I suppose that there is a little Gnostic in all of us that can only think in purely spiritual ways about the Christian faith. We have "the spirituais about religion and flesh is about reality" dichotomy stuck prettfirmly in our chests.

 

This division is a consequence of our fallenness; that we cannot see flesh and spirit united. We are incapable of walking with God in the afternoon (Gn 3:8). This shows itself in our foolish opinion that what we do with our body will not affect our spiritual life. What we do with our body we do with our spirit. This is why the Apostle Paul reminds us, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body(1Co 6:19-20). All prohibitions of sexual impurity have behind them the presupposition that physical acts have spiritual meaning.

 

The life of the body is the life of the spirit. The next time you plan to go to church, you should try to send your spirit to the house of the Lord without its being connected to your body. It doesn't work out very well, does it? We are left only to walk with God again where He deigns to offer Himself to us. Here we have glimpses of our ultimate goal that we might share with God the Garden of His heaven and in it stroll with Him in perfect harmony and fellowship. The patriarchs Enoch and Noah were said to walk with God when they passed from this world: "Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him" (Gn 5:24). God has walked with us on the dusty roads of Palestine leading on toward Jerusalem and His passion and death (Mk 10:32). This was to be a very real and bodily death, not the airy-fairy thing of "pure spirituality" No, sin and death affect us; every bit of us: body and soul, mind and heart. In His enfleshment of Mary and His bodily and fleshly death and the giving up of His spirit (Jn 19:30) there is a complete salvation for us poor sinners affected in our totality, as we are, by the plague and filth of sin. He walks with us even now, in the gift of baptism, that we might walk with Him in newness of life (Rm 6:4).
Tertullian

 

"All waters attain the sacramental power of sanctification by virtue of the pristine privilege of their origin and after invocation of God. For the Spirit immediately comes down from the heavens, and rests over the waters, sanctifying them from Himself. Being sanctified in this way, they also absorb the power of sanctifying. At the same time, the similarity may be admitted to be suitable to the simple act. Since we are defiled by sins, as if by dirt, we should be washed from those stains in water. But as sins do not show themselves in our flesh (as no one carries on his skin the spot of idolatry, or fornication, or fraud), so persons of that kind are foul in spirit, which is the author of the sin; for the spirit is lord, the flesh servant. Yet they each mutually share the guilt: the spirit commanding; the flesh serving (Mt 26:41). Therefore, after the waters have been in a manner endowed with medicine through the intervention of the angel (Jn 5:4 KJV), the spirit is corporeally washed in the waters, and the flesh is in the same spiritually cleansed."

 

Tertullian, On Baptism, 4
 
Prayer

Keep us from despising the means of grace, O Lord, that we might hurry to receive Your gifts where You offer them. Keep us steadfast in our faith and confession that in all things Your might be glorified for Your grace. Amen.

 

For Chad Smith, who is a student at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, that being instructed in the doctrine of the blessed apostles he might confess Christ in the church and world

 

For the lay leaders of Memorial Lutheran Church, that the Lord would bless their efforts to build God's kingdom around His gifts

 

For the aged who are suffering from diminishing strength, that the Lord would their help and shield
Photo: Courtesy of Martha Fredenburg

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