Judging

judge-funny

Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William Jackson

We have all heard the Christian tag line “Judge not, and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37).  This maxim has even permeated into the community of non-believers.  “Why not?”, this little “get-out-of-jail-free” expression has a lot of appeal. It serves as a magical cloak that repeals haters from calling you out on sins, all the while you can be biblical.  James 4:12 even adds in, God can only judge and “who are you to (even) judge your neighbor?” Conversely, as we dig into the Tanakh (Old Testament) we will see that we are to judge, but if we do not do it correctly it can be unpleasing to the Lord.

The Tanakh actual speaks in the opposite direction than the New Testament on many issues, especially on this one. As we read in the Torah, God not only says to tell someone when they are sinning, but to do it immediately (Leviticus 19:15-19).  This message is further amplified in Proverbs; Proverbs 9:8, 27:5-6, 31:9. It makes sense that not telling somebody they are in sin is equal to allowing them to “persist in self-destructive behavior”1.  Which is the classic definition of an enabler.   So how did the New Testament get it so backwards.  Simple, the New Testament is strongly influenced by the Talmud.

We need to remember that thousands of Talmudic expressions were part of Jewish culture well before the birth of Christianity.  Then, as proven2, they became part of the New Testament.  Even the expression of “Judge not, and you will not be judged” probably came from the Talmud’s “Do not judge your fellow until you have reached his place.”3.  Like with many expression, this one was restated in an easier way that caused its meaning to be lost.

Conclusion:

God’s word not only tells us to judge but to be quick in doing it.  However, we do not have the right to be blatant or crass in delivering criticism to our brothers and sisters.  Likewise, judging does not mean to do it behind their back, this would be gossip, and holds its own penalty4. We will discuss deliver of criticism in next week’s article titled “Delivering Judgement”.

References:

  1. “Enabler”, Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2016.

 

  1. Jackson, William. “Talmudic Influence on Christianity.” Center for Tanakh Based Studies. N.p., 19 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Aug. 2016.

 

  1. Tauber, Yanki. “What You Obviously Don’t Know.” – Chassidic Thought. Based on the Teachings of the Rebbe., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2016.

 

  1. Jackson, William. “Lashon Hara, The Evil Tongue.” Center for Tanakh Based Studies. N.p., 19 May 2015. Web. 20 Aug. 2016.
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Is the Law too hard to Follow?

carrying-boulder

Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William Jackson

Having dinner with some Christian friends, they asked us about our faith.  As many of you know, we just follow the Tanakh (Old Testament). So, they postured the question “Isn’t it a burden to follow all the 613 Laws?”  My wife, Danielle, and I knew where they were coming from.  As previous Christians, we were well aware of Acts 15:10 where it says “The law is an unbearable yoke” and Romans 6:14 that states “Christians are not under the law” (actually the New Testament has over 37 verses that talk against God’s laws1).  Welcoming the discussion, we spoke about how the law was not a burden and that the 613 mitzvot (Commandments) needed to be broken down further to understand their impact in how it relates to us. Since many of you deal with this question, I thought I would offer my answer here.

Some might ask what does the 613 mitzvot mean?  Firstly, a mitzvot can mean either command or law2.  As for 613, these are the number of commandments issued by God in the Torah.  The number of laws being 613 was established by Rabbi Simlai in the 3rd century in a sermon (Makkot 23b)3. Sadly, the Rabbi never listed them.  So over the years many attempted to create lists, but it took about 8 centuries after Rabbi Similai’s sermon for Maimonides to create the generally accepted list.  Jewish people hold that there are 613 commandments, but I advise anyone to review Maimonides list.  You might find many laws duplicated and some that could be considered a stretch.  That being said, Maimonides does give us a great start point.

About 40% of the laws have to do with Temple sacrifice and other ordinances that cannot be done in our current day, we are only able to do about 3964 of the laws. This list becomes pared down even further since some are exclusively for Jews, some are for Priests, others relate only to Kings, others for lepers.  Others deal only with men, while other are only for women. These are commands dealing with things like pregnancy and circumcision.  So now we get down to the basic laws.  I jotted down my findings of what’s left from the list of 6135. After each topic I wrote down the amount of related laws:

Ethics and Morality

Business Practices 14

Fair treatment of Employees 6

Human Animal Treatment 1

Honoring a Vow 7

Family 5

Religion

Honoring God 10

Sabbath and Holidays 17

Prophecy 3

Idolatry 46

Civil Law:

Court and Judicial Procedure 36

Injuries and Damages 4

Property and Property Rights 11

Criminal Laws 7

Punishment and Restitution 24

Farming:

Agriculture and Animal Husbandry 7

Helping the Poor and Unfortunate 13

When you review these remaining tenants, you are simply left with methods for living a good life.  Being ethical in business, helping the poor, honoring your family and treating animals humanly, it doesn’t make sense that anyone should be bothered by being yoked by this.  Additionally, the laws covered under religion are the basic tenants of most synagogues and churches.  As for the commands covered under civil law, we already are under these same laws as American citizens.

It is possible that the sticking point for some is not this long list.  We all follow rules everyday whether at work, at school in the home or on the highway.  If we listed them all out, it could appear burdensome, but most of us understand why they are there.  I offer that the true point of contention, for some, is just a few laws:

Homosexuality Leviticus 18:22, 20:13

Tattoos Leviticus 19:28

Eating Clean Leviticus 11

As we know, compromising the legitimacy of one of God’s laws is tantamount to eliminating all of God’s laws. Not to mention, the New Testament supports at least one of these three rulings (1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Romans 1:26-27).

Conclusion:

One of the strongest selling points of Christianity is that they are not burden by the laws.  On the surface this is very appealing.  Yet, is anyone taking time out to determine what this burden truly is?  If this list of laws is a grouping of concepts for us all to live by to create a better society, this is not such a bad thing.  Christianity also stresses the impossibility of following these laws, thus their messiah.  Nonetheless, God has already made provisions in the event we ever fail following His law;

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

…also Ezekiel 18:21 – 18:23, Psalm 32:3-5 and Proverbs 28:13

References:

  1. “37 Scriptures That Prove Christians Are Not Under The Law.” PhilDrysdalecom. N.p., 11 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Aug. 2016.

 

  1. Freeman, Tzvi. “What Is a Mitzvah? – The State of Being Connected.” – Chabad.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2016.

 

  1. Israel Drazi (2009). Maimonides and the Biblical Prophets. Gefen Publishing House Ltd. p. 209.

 

  1. Danzinger, Eliezer, Rabbi. “How Many of the Torah’s Commandments Still Apply?” – Questions & Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.

 

  1. “Judaism 101: A List of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments).” Judaism 101: A List of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments). N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Aug. 2016.

Seventeen Months Past the Cross

Looking Through a New Lens
Seventeen Months Past the Cross
By: Terrie C

My week found me flapping in the wind for the first time in a long time, and I’m glad. I’m glad because when that happens here on this side of the cross, it leaves me with only my awe and reverence of Adonai to cling to. Whenever I’m in that position, I have learned, I’m so much closer to where I should be than when I’m walking around thinking I have it all together!

A recent teaching I read, right here on the “Center for Tanakh Based Studies” page left me reeling! As a “Messianic Christian” I was quick to advocate observance of all the Feasts mentioned under the “forever” guidelines of Tanakh. The author of the teaching I read planted some excellent questions in my mind about the subject. Have I been insulting my Creator by observing these days without a Temple standing? The last thing I want to do is twist His instructions to fit my beliefs! We see in Scripture that The Almighty gives precise instruction, and deviating from that never has good end results! What days should I observe per Scriptural instruction, and which days can I NOT observe? What days are only for the Jews? How about those who stand inside the gates with Israel? Which days are for everyone? Ugh… the new questions I now have!! I’m so thankful, though, to have learned not to fear the questioning! It was Christianity that taught me not to question. On this side of the cross, my questions are encouraged!

It’s funny to me how much Christian thinking, what my friend calls “Christothink”,  is still lodged in my spirit, even though I’d never laid eyes on any Scriptures for myself until I was forty. I haven’t gazed at the writings that call themselves the “new” testament for about two years, yet still find myself tangled in their twisted doctrine occasionally. As time passes, it gets easier and easier to recognize when I’m tangled and to free myself from it, but I still get surprised when it happens. It’s in me, though, so I stay ever alert to it. What I didn’t understand as a Messianic Christian, I didn’t need to worry about. I just needed to “take it on faith”. Here, seventeen months past the cross, I will only “take it” on Torah!

You may be wondering what conclusion I have come to regarding the Holy Days, and which are “for me”. With no intent to disappoint, I have no conclusion to share. My knees knock to admit that. I like conclusions, too! But this subject is what might be labeled an “ongoing open investigation” for me. I still have much to learn! For instance, what is the difference between God’s Laws and His Statutes? And what is the difference between honoring and observing? I often wonder how our covenant with our Creator would be worded, if it were written as a contract would be written. What would be the points listed as “my part”? I love that the 91rst Psalm is written as such. Have you ever noticed that? Look how clearly it’s broken down….

 

Psalm 91
He that dwells (MY PART) in the covert of the Most High, and abides in the shadow of the Almighty: (MY PART) I will say of the YHVH, who is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust, (MY PART) that He will deliver you (GOD’S PART)  from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, (GOD’S PART) and under His wings shall you take refuge; (MY PART) His truth is a shield and a buckler. You shall not be afraid (MY PART) of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; it shall not come near you. (GOD’S PART) Only with your eyes shall you behold, and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made YHVH, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation. (MY PART) There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. (GOD’s PART) They shall bear you upon their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and asp; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample under feet. ‘Because he has set his love (MY PART) upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, (GOD’s PART) because he has known My Name. He shall call upon Me, (MY PART) and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him, and bring him to honour. With long life will I satisfy him, and make Him to behold My salvation.’ (GOD’S PART).****

I think it’s so important that we learn what “our part” really entails as we sojourn through this world. In Christianity, I was taught that ‘my part” was to  do even greater things than Jesus. Still haven’t met a believer who could make new skin grow or multiply food. (although that would be grand!)  I was taught my part was to  heal others through prayer, yet still attended funerals. I was taught my part was to believe I was healed, but my body sure didn’t back that up! I was taught that anything would be given me, if I asked for it in Jesus’ name. Hmmm, I won’t even touch on the results of that! Is it any wonder so many believers walk away from the church when they see the results of taking things “on faith”?

Here on this side of the cross, I’m still learning “my part”. And that’s okay. I have a feeling my lesson will be lifelong, and that’s okay, too! What I know is that my Creator sees my desire to please Him, to understand Him, and to obey Him. I can rest right there while He makes my life my classroom, and shows me where and how each Scriptural concept is to be applied to myself.

It is my genuine desire that this article will prompt you, dear reader, to evaluate your own part in this covenant relationship with The Almighty. There is no greater place in which we could stand!
“See” you soon!  -Terrie 

Who is the Suffering Servant?

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Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By:  William Jackson

Who is Isaiah’s suffering servant?  Dependent on your audience your answers will vary.  In the case of Christianity, Jesus is the resounding response.  You see, for Christianity the “suffering servant” prophecy serves as their cotter pin in connecting the Testaments.  Ironically, although Christianity doesn’t focus a lot on the Tanakh (the Old Testament), it does enjoy the validation of their messiah through Israel’s prophets. Isaiah is chuck for of them.  Even when you read Isaiah 53 alone it does seem to speak to Jesus;

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering…” (verses 4)

“…he was pierced for our transgressions… “(verse 5)

“…the Lord makes his life an offering for sin…” (verse 10)

suffering_servant

To further solidify this, the New Testament quotes Isaiah when referring to Jesus – a lot.  One example is Matthew 8:16-17 which tells us “He (being Christ) took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”.  This is a direct quote from Isaiah 53:4. Actually, Isaiah 53 is quoted a resounding 851 times in the New Testament. As if that was not enough, there are many more supposed foreshadowing’s of the Christian messiah found in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14, 6:9,10, 9:1,2, 29:13, 40:3-5, 42:1-4). The great crescendo is Luke 4:17-22 when Christ is reading the Torah portion in the synagogue and he reads aloud Isaiah 58:6, 61:1-2.  Here it affirms that he has been sent as God’s servant.  Yes, all of this is very convincing, if we keep these verses isolated.

When it comes to scripture, regardless of where we stand on the issue, anyone who is sharp enough is going to insist you read it in context.  As painful as it is, we are to read the sentences before and after each verse, sometimes the whole chapter, sometimes even the whole book to get the complete meaning. No short cuts, or holding onto pieces that just advance our cause.  It is His entire Holy Word, not our covenant soundbites.

Isaiah is sometimes called “Shakespeare of the Tanakh”1. In his beautiful literary style his book uses four “Servant poems” to communicate his message.  These Servant Poems, otherwise known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant, are written about a certain “servant of YHWH.”.  They can be found in Isaiah chapters 42, 49, 50 and 53. So begs the question, who is the suffering servant in these songs? Christian liturgy would have us to believe it is Christ, but let’s read it in context.  As we begin in chapter 41 we see the suffering servant identified as the Jewish nation2:

“You are My servant, O Israel” (41:8)

“You are My servant, Israel” (49:3)

see also Isaiah 44:1, 44:2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20.

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Let’s take it a step further and scour the entire Tanakh.  The Bible is filled with other references to the Jewish people as God’s “servant”; see Jeremiah 30:10, 46:27-28; Psalms 136:22.  In fact, no one, other than Israel, is identified as the “servant” in Tanakh (Old Testament).

Conclusion:

We are not to add or subtract from God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, Joshua 1:7, Proverbs 30:6).  This would imply that we are to spend the time and research His Word so it does not become misinterpreted.  Passion is good, but when passion leads to bias it becomes a hindrance. Christian liturgy in the need to validate itself seized onto some pretty powerful verses from Isaiah, but since they were not grounded in truth, they could be pushed away by anyone sincere enough to study His Word.   “Fools inherit folly, but the cunning make knowledge a crown” (Provers 14:18).

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References:

  1. Wilmington, Harold L. “Isaiah: Shakespeare of the Prophets.” Liberty University (1985): 60. Web.

 

  1. Roth, Marshall. “Isaiah 53: The Suffering Servant.” Aishcom. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2016.

 

 

Walking Past the Cross

Looking Through a New Lens

Walking Past the Cross
By Terrie C

Give me the Beat, Boys, and Free my Soul…

The sub-title of this post is lyrics from a song that, since my childhood, has never left my soul. It moves me so much, I’ve asked for it to be played on the day that my family and friends will gather to celebrate my life, and the true freeing of my own soul has occurred; my funeral. Music has always been my best friend. It plays a huge role in my life, and even in my self-expression. What does this topic have to do with my journey past the cross? Plenty, and I’ll tell you why. Anytime we make huge changes in our spiritual life, the ripple effect washes over our physical world, as well. As we adjust to learning how to unlearn, there are plenty of resources available. More and more people are digging into the Torah, and walking away from the church system every day. Via the internet, we can watch countless teachings, join groups that encourage and support us in our walk, and surround ourselves with people that are like minded (but not same minded) no matter how far away they are from us. But rarely is the subject of music addressed. With all the huge spiritual undertakings I have encountered, it may surprise you to learn that I really struggled in this area!! It’s something few people talk about on this Ancient Path, and something that all of us have to choose for ourselves. What music is playing on the “soundtrack” of our lives has an impact on our spirit, to be sure! Does it matter which music it is? Of course it matters! Everything matters.

It didn’t take me long when I crossed over from atheism into belief during my fortieth year on this earth to learn that some of the music I listened to simply had to go. My range of music was wide, I loved some music in every genre except opera (no offence to opera fans). Unfortunately it was wide enough to include artists who sang against everything I was learning in Scripture. I made the decision to not listen to anything that didn’t honor God. I still chuckle when I think of that morning. I was somewhere in Back-Woods, Georgia, the morning sunrise was just busting through my kitchen window, almost as if to illuminate the radio sitting on my counter. I walked slowly over to it, knowing it was a big moment for me. I turned it on and cranked the dial all the way left, and began searching for a station that played “Christian music”. The dial was all the way to the right by the time I found it. One station. There it was, playing full-blown churchy music, with organs blasting. For a this 1980s rock and roll loving, head-banging dancing girl, it was as much a shock as being taken from the freezer and being dropped in boiling water. I felt so guilty… all I could think was “UGH, UGH, YUCK, YUCK and BLAH!” But I was determined to honor my God with what music choices I made, and so I listened all day, every day.

When we moved out of the boonies, we got cable TV. There were music channels there that introduced me to “mainstream” Christian music. I was giddy! Woo-Hoo! Music that honors God AND has a guitar and drums in the band. Life was good! Since the doctrine I sat under taught that all are doomed except those who proclaim Jesus as savior, I certainly didn’t want to listen to music from doomed artists! I thought the devil could use it to trap me and devour me. (I laughed as I typed that, just so you know. Oh, what I used to believe!) I didn’t listen to anything else after that, not even the great music from my past that is literally part of who I am. I happily went about my days while artists like Third Day, Tobymac, Kutless and Tenth Avenue North kept my toe tapping and my spirits high. It wasn’t until I began the study to find Jesus (Yeshua) in the Tanakh (“Old Testament”) that I started noticing the music I was listening to was giving glory, honor and praise to a name that wasn’t God’s. I clearly remember the day I shut that music off, too. I was driving along with the window down and the heater blasting, thinking on some things with the music low. Suddenly, the volume on my thoughts was turned down and a stanza from the song playing was amplified. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and it went like this: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about you, Jeeesuuuus.” There it was, Christianity in a nutshell. I turned that dial quick! It is not, and has never been, about anything or anyone but YHVH! Even the coming Messiah will only be revered, not worshipped. All worship belongs to God, He does not share His glory.

I love how my Creator wastes nothing! When I turned the radio dial off that Christian music that night, the very next station that tuned in was playing the song in my post title. I sang along as loud as I could, with tears streaming down my face. It had been so long since I listened to my favorite song! I understood in that moment that I was allowed to love all kinds of music with the knowledge that life and death are set before me every day, even in the music I choose! If the lyrics are honoring life and love instead of anger and hate, it is for me to enjoy. I have to be honest, though, and admit that I miss “mainstream” worship music sometimes. It’s so moving to sing to sing aloud to my Maker! I’ve tried listening to different kinds of “Jewish music”. It brings back lots of fun childhood memories, and it’s quite enjoyable to me for a period of time, but it simply doesn’t “move me” in the way that music can and has moved me all my life. And so my search for new music that honors only God continues, even while I enjoy some old favorites that I had shelved for so many years. I can’t imagine that I’m the only believer who has struggled in the area of what music is suitable for our souls as we sojourn through this world with so many choices. This is why I decided to share my own struggle. With people leaving churchianity in droves, and not necessarily converting to Judaism, it won’t be long until music catches up with us, and we’ll have the option to enjoy the sounds we already love while giving glory, honor and praise to The One to whom it belongs. I, for one, can’t wait!

“See” you soon, friends, and play some great music today. Go ahead, sing along! I hope you didn’t think I wasn’t going to share my all-time favorite song with you, I love it too much not to share! Enjoy 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I6XP8Qe8Bo

Where to Spend Sabbath?

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Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William Jackson

Where to go for Sabbath; stay at home, go to a place of worship, meet with a group or does any of it matter?  The Tanakh appears to give us the answer but sometimes it feels that these answers are in conflict.  People are no different.  Depending on who you ask, their answers are as varied as their religions. Nevertheless, those that are Torah observant just want to follow God’s will. In order to root out the answer, we will reflect on God’s word, in context, as it pertains to the Sabbath?

Some do not believe we should leave our homes on Sabbath.  Usually, they draw on a single verse to support this reasoning, Exodus 16:29.  Here it says “…. Let each man remain in his place; let no man leave his place on the seventh day”.  The seventh day here is refereeing to the Sabbath.  Interestingly, this was a statute given before the Sabbath was established as a Law (Exodus 20:8).  So we need to read Exodus 16:29 in context.  If you go back to verse 22 you will see that God was telling the Israelites to gather a double portion of manna the day before Sabbath.  On Sabbath, they were not to leave their homes and gather more manna.  This could serve as an modern day analogy of how we are not to be in “the world” working for a paycheck on Sabbath.

Yet, much, much later in Nehemiah 13:19, Nehemiah commanded that the gates of Jerusalem to be closed on Sabbath.  Does this not imply we are not to leave our homes on this Holy day?  If we read all of chapter 13 we will see that merchants were frequenting Jerusalem on the Sabbath and many Israelites were still trading on this day.   Nehemiah, through the help of his people, was trying to remove temptation from the Sabbath.  In closing the gates, the influence of the world was kept out and a community of believers was kept in.  So it appears community during Sabbath is a good thing. Even Leviticus 23:3 inspires us to have a Holy “miqra” (assembly or convocation) on Sabbath.

Still, what if you’re not blessed in having a local community of likeminded believers.  This is why many turn to the internet for Torah teachings and cyber internet groups of followers.  Is this wrong?  Many sects have imposed rulings on electronics for the Sabbath1.  This would be religion.  Studying God’s word, whether in person, over the phone, or on-line it is still an assembly (miqra).  However, we should be cautioned.  Isaiah says it best “…don’t peruse your personal interests on Sabbath…” (Isaiah 58:13). If we use our computers as a tool during Shabbat for Sabbath we should not be reading and responding to personal posts about our own interest or surfing the net for things outside of Torah.

In an attempt to not profane the Sabbath, many find themselves creating healthy habits such as, stocking up before Shabbat, turning phones to silence and warning friends & family you won’t be available until Saturday’s sunset.  But; to impose restrictions for the expressed purpose of feeling pious is a burden.  As Tanakh tells us, we are to rest in God and have a Holy “miqra”. The word “miqra” can mean gathering and/or a reading, and both can be done on the internet. Remember the Sabbath is not a burden, it is a delight (Isaiah 56:2-6, 58:13, Psalm 92:1-2).

 

Reference

  1. Rabbis Broyde & Jachter, “The Use of Electricity on Shabbat and Yom Tov”, Journal of Halacha & Contemporary Society, No. XXI – Spring 91.

 

Rise and Shine! (on the Dark Side) Pt. II

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Rise and Shine! (on the Dark Side)
Part Two
By Terrie C

This is Part Two of two on the subject of shining God’s Light on that piece of ourselves that can be hard to acknowledge: Our darker self. Essentially made of pride, and all too often easy to evoke, if we don’t take a look at this side of ourselves, we will be bound to live in defeat. Today’s post stands alone; but if the idea of taking stock of your own darker elements is new to you, part one is a more detailed explanation of the concept.

This is the link: https://center-for-tanakh-based-studies.com/2016/07/25/rise-and-shine-on-the-dark-side/

When I stopped blaming the evil that has touched my life through the years on that ole devil and started absorbing the concept of free will, I understood that God is the Author of both Light and Darkness. We were created with the capacity to exercise either. That choice is our free will. Since there is no one in this world who is under our authority except us, we need to take that evil inclination that lives right in us and understand the role it plays in the bigger picture, which we call our life. Pretending it doesn’t exist won’t help. Thinking some sort of a savior tore it out of us won’t help. Understanding it and acknowledging it before our Creator and ourselves will. Doing so is part of the maturation process as seek to draw nearer and nearer to the One who told us to chose life. He has set both before us, and given us the authority of free will to make our choice. These dark pieces of us aren’t exempt from God’s Light, and can even be useful to us in self-discovery, self-discipline and self-motivation! Before we start wielding a flashlight into this less than pleasant arena, though, it is imperative that we have a secure connection to the source of all Light, YHVH. We secure this connection through repentance, prayer, obedience and careful Scripture study. Then we are ready to Rise and Shine on our own Dark Side!

Here are some things we can do to expose our “dark side” to God’s Light:

  1. Get honest with God, and with ourselves.

He already knows anyway, it is we who need self-awareness. We cannot improve in an area we  won’t admit needs improvement and we  cannot confront that in ourselves which we deny.

     2)  Seek insight about our  inclinations.

Some of our darker inclinations have an origin in our past. When we can understand a quality about ourselves, be it good or bad, we are in a position to take authority over it, and bend it to serve our will.

    3)  Seek God’s help.

Even with much understanding and discipline, our darker half will remain. Without it, free will would be gone, too. We can ask God to strengthen our resolve in the areas we feel weak. He is faithful to uphold us when we recognize that He is the source of all our wisdom, understanding and strength.

    4) Practice self-discipline.

A great way to pull a dark inclination into light is work against it purposefully. If we tend to be greedy, the remedy is giving. If we tend to be lazy, we can set a schedule and follow it. If we tend to be jealous, we can retrain our eyes to focus on being grateful for what we have. The list goes on and on, and I’m sure you could  add to it, but self-discipline is key.

         5) Understand that this part of us is tricky and ever-changing.

Just when it seems like we’ve conquered a dark tendency, be sure it will show up again in disguise. Because we will never eliminate this part of us, our self-discipline must be ever-changing, too. Take heart, though! When we are disciplined in recognizing and acknowledging our own darker elements, it gets easier to see through their disguises, and to call them into the light of God’s truth!

I’m so glad you popped in today, and I’ll “see” you again soon! If you have found an area that seems difficult to “Rise and Shine” upon, I would love to hear about it! Your thoughts and comments are always welcomed. Who knows? It just may be the next post title!