Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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from a sermon in Louisville, Kentucky on 8/10/05.
When some of Israel’s elders condemned Jesus for saying he was the Son of God, Jesus quoted this verse from Psalms: “Is it not written in your law, I [God] said you are gods?” In other words, Jesus was asking those who opposed him, “Don’t you remember your own scriptures, where God said to you, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the most high’?” Of course, they did remember that verse because they were the elders of Israel. They knew the scriptures well, and they could not gainsay Jesus’ reasoning.
They had condemned Jesus, saying to him, “You are blaspheming, because you say you are the Son of God.” But Jesus responded, “Hold on a minute, here. Didn’t our God, tell you in your own law, that you are gods? And if that is true, “if He called them ‘gods’ to whom the word of God came – and the Scripture cannot be contradicted – are you telling the one whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am God’s son’? If God said to you, ‘You are all children of the Most High,’ then where is the blasphemy in my telling you that I am the Son of God?”
Who was it that God called “gods”? That is the important thing about the verse which Jesus quoted. According to that verse, “gods” are those people, men and women, to whom the word of God comes. Has the word of God come to you? Consider for a moment what the word of God can do. The word of God created the universe out of nothing, and all the life forms in it. That’s what the word of God can do. And when that word of God comes into your frail human body, it makes you something more than a mere mortal because the word of God is something more than your life. Now, you know that you and I are not to be worshiped, but because of the entrance of God’s word, we now are called gods by the One who created us anew in Christ Jesus.
When Paul said, “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature,” he was saying exactly what David and Jesus said: “You are gods, and all of you are children of the most high.” Again, we are not to be worshiped, not to be sacrificed to, but we must understand our status. As children of God, we are more important to God than the cherubim and the seraphim and all those wonderful creatures around God’s throne. We are more important to our heavenly Father than all of them put together. All the angels of heaven do not matter to Him as much as we do. We are His children. They are His creatures. They are His servants. As a matter of fact, they are our servants. It says in Hebrews that they are sent forth from heaven as ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Now, they don’t take orders from us, but they are here to serve us. They receive their orders from above. It’s God the Father who, through His Son, gives orders to the angels for the blessing of His “gods” down here. Even the angels understand that the children of God are “gods”, and that their duty is to serve them.
Paul said, “Don’t you know we will judge angels?” We are going to judge the world to come, and we will rule over this world with Jesus for one thousand years. Now, what kind of status is that? Such knowledge shouldn’t make you proud. It should amaze and humble us. John the apostle wrote, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!” Believers are children of God now. Believers are “new creatures”. Believers are gods because God Himself said so.
You, as gods on the earth, can sense the spirits around you. You know what people feel and think, even if they do not show it on the outside. Nobody is a secret in the presence of God. How many times have you read in the Bible such phrases as “Jesus, knowing their thoughts . . .”, and yet, those people assumed they were thinking in secret. The Spirit is a light; it’s a lamp; it brightens your pathway. When we walk in the Spirit of our Father, we don’t accidentally bump into anything. Nothing surprises us. You know where people are. That’s what comes with the territory of being gods. You know more than ordinary humans can know. You see more than ordinary humans can see. You feel things that humans don’t feel because you have a spirit that ordinary humans don’t have. You have a Father that humans don’t have. You have a family that humans do not belong to. You have a hope that humans don’t have. You live above the ordinary course of life because the word of God has entered into your heart and re-created you. It is not because you are by nature better than anybody else, but because God’s word creates wherever it goes; and in those who believe, it creates a new kind of being that had never been before Christ came. It is a being that knows things that it did not previously know, sees things it did not see, and can now do things it could not do. And it is going to come out of the grave long after it goes in, because the grave cannot hold that new creature down.
What superstition, and “doctrines of demons”, and “ways of the heathen” do, is intimidate God’s people so that they fear to believe and act like their new selves in Christ. Have faith in your God, and do not be afraid to be who you are. Go ahead and think the next thought, see the next vision, feel the next feeling. It’s God in you doing those things, just as Jesus said it was God in him doing the things he did!
Don’t be afraid of what you’re going to see next, what you are going to understand next. Don’t be ashamed of who you’ve become. You’ve become somebody who is connected with the all-knowing God. That’s who you are – sons and daughters of the living God, through the holy Ghost.
If any man be in Christ, he’s a “new creature”. You must find out who you are – find out who each other is: a new creature. Old things are passed away. It is such a glorious truth that even those to whom it has happened can hardly believe it. It’s just too great to take in all at once. “Old things are gone. Behold, all things are new.” One of the things that becomes new when you are born again is your past. In Christ, you have a new past. You have a new family tree. The creature God makes you did not come from natural forebears. You were conceived and born of the “incorruptible seed” of the word of God. That body you have now came from the corruptible seed, the physical seed of your natural parents. But there is another seed. Jesus called it the word of God, and that is where you came from. And one of these days, you are going to shuck off this fleshly shell and be clothed with a new body. That’s what gods ought to have – a different kind of body from this decaying shell in which we live on Earth.
That is a hope worth living for. It is a hope worth dying for. It’s worth being misunderstood for. It’s worth suffering for, worth waiting for. It is worth loving your enemies for, and praying for those that despitefully use you. It’s worth praying for. It’s worth praising God for. It’s worth repenting for. It’s worth everything!
That new creature knows the future. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, Revelation 19 tells us. That is the spirit that you’ve received. You’re supposed to be a prophet. You are supposed to feel the coming judgment. You’re supposed to rejoice in the hope of salvation. You are supposed to feel those things coming, and unless you have been confused and made dull of heart by “doctrines of demons” and “the ways of the heathen”, you do feel them coming. It’s real in you. That new creature has a real hope. It knows what’s coming. And well it ought to! Even demons sensed them coming whenever Jesus drew near them! They cried out such things as, “Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Ought we not to know, too, that time is coming? Those demons were not children of God. Then, we who are children of God ought to know that time of judgment is coming, and be excited about it. That awareness of the coming judgment made the demons tremble with fear. It ought to make us praise God. Jesus said that when we see the end near to lift up our head and rejoice, for “your redemption is drawing nigh.” Amen.
God Himself was the one talking when He said, “I have said, you are gods.” That was God talking, not the psalmist. The least we can do is say is He is right! God doesn’t judge things by how you feel; He goes by what He knows. And when you go by what He knows, you feel as He feels. That’s where good and right feelings come from; from what God knows.
The world mocks at the truth because it doesn’t know a god when it sees one. John said, “This is why the world does not know you because it did not know Him.” The world didn’t know Jesus. How, then, is it going to know his brothers and sisters? The world doesn’t recognize God’s family. It’s too real for this world. It’s just too good.
“Among the gods”
Now, this is an important point for us to consider. Listen to this, from Psalm 82:1: “God stands in the congregation of the mighty. He judges among the gods.”
Referring to the imagined gods of the heathen, the prophets said more than once that the gods were vanity, or nothing. And if we use that definition of “gods” for this verse, then God doesn’t have much work to do, does He? Anyone can judge among nothing. Likewise, if we see the word “gods” in this verse as referring to demons, it won’t hold up for us, in our time, because God has already judged them. They are already condemned. But if we read this verse as referring to God’s children, that means that Jesus is among us, judging “among the gods”. Only God Himself and His anointed Son have the wisdom to do that.
This is why Paul was so distressed that a brother in Corinth had sued another brother and taken him to court. Paul called it “going before the unjust”. In other words, Paul was saying, “How in the world can you expect the world to judge what is right among the gods?” In order for the world to judge among this new race that God has created, they’d have to be led by the Spirit, but all they have to judge by is their eyes and their ears. That is all they have. And Jesus commanded us not to judge by what our eyes see and what our ears hear, but “judge righteous judgment”. The world cannot obey that commandment. So, the foolish man who had dragged his brother to court was not being led by the Spirit, even though in a worldly court he might look or sound better. Only God can judge among the gods.
Paul asked that man who went to the world with his grievances and sued a brother in court, if you feel as if your brother has done you wrong, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?” Paul was distressed that a child of God would love himself so much more than he loved Jesus that he would seek the world’s judgment of any matter among the saints, for every wise child of God knows the world cannot judge their affairs rightly. On the contrary, Paul indignantly asked, “Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?” Paul knew that every sincere child of God seeks justice from the Father and does not bring issues belonging to the body of Christ before the world to be judged. When God calls us, He calls us to faith in Him. And “by faith, we understand” that God alone is able to judge rightly “among the gods” and that the real “gods” in this world, according to our heavenly Father Himself, and according to His Son Jesus, are those to whom the word of God has come.