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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Amos and the Judgment of Ammon


Introduction

For the past five weeks, we have studied the background of the book of Amos and his prophecies spoken to Israel about Damascus (Aram), Gaza (Philistia), Tyre (Phoenicia), and Edom. These chief cities and their respective nations worshiped false gods. Besides that, God charged them with going against His children, the Israelites. Damascus battled against Israel, overtook them, and stole Gilead from them. Gaza often raided Israel and took their possessions and their people. They made their captives slaves and sold them with Edom as the middleman. Tyre broke their covenant of brotherhood with Israel by capturing and selling them as slaves with the aid of Philistia (Gaza) and Edom. They betrayed the Israelites. Edom’s anger and jealousy of Israel caused them repeatedly attempt to take areas of the Promised Land, the people, and their possessions for themselves. They continually fought against the Israelites and sold them into slavery even though they were blood relatives.

You will note the net God wove with Amos’ prophecies now crossed over from the northern and eastern sides of Israel to the western and southern sides. This net will draw closer to Israel’s location with each successive prophecy. It will draw closer as God and Amos try to draw the Israelites’ attention to themselves and their own sinfulness and rebellion against the LORD.

This week our study will cover what Amos prophesied about Ammon. What caused God to charge Ammon with rebellion and sin? What judgment did God declare over that nation? Besides these things, we will learn who the people of Ammon were, what their history was, and learn how God fulfilled the prophecy He gave Amos. This week’s Bible study will cover Amos 1:13-15.

Who was Ammon?

The people of Ammon were blood relatives of the Israelites, like the Edomites were. Where Edom’s link to the Israelites was through Esau, Jacob’s brother, the Ammonites’ common relative with the Israelites was Lot, Abraham’s nephew. When Lot and Abraham’s people and animals grew to be too many for their land to support them, Abraham and Lot decided they needed to part ways. Abraham gave Lot first choice of the surrounding land. Lot chose the fertile valley around the base of the Jordon River in which to settle. Genesis 13:12 states he moved his tents as far as Sodom, one of the “cities of the plain.”

Scientists, archeologist, and theologians have looked for these ancient cities into which Lot and his family fled and began their lives anew after departing from Abraham’s company. Lot called Sodom a city of the plain. In Genesis 14:1-24, we read the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah,  Zeboiim, and Zoar allied with each other and met in the Valley of Siddim, the Salt Sea/Dead Sea region. The fertile valley of the Dead Sea was the southeastern side of the Dead Sea.  The Valley of Siddim, watered by the Jordan River, was where Lot took his family when he and Abraham separated the land between themselves. Lot chose fertile territory so he and his family could prosper.

Lot lived in Sodom with his wife, children, and servants. As the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned more and more, God’s anger began to boil. He sent messengers, His angels, to tell Lot to get his family out of the city because God’s judgment had come upon the city and He would destroy it. The messengers told them not to look back, but to escape. Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his daughters escaped to Zoar. [Genesis 19:1-26]

After leaving Zoar to live in the mountains, Lot’s daughters thought they were the only people left alive on the earth so they got Lot drunk. On the first night, the oldest daughter lay with her father and became pregnant. On the second night, the youngest daughter did the same with the same result. They named the sons born of those incestuous relationships Moab and Ben-Ammi. Moab means “of his father.” Ben-ammi means “son of my people.” Moab became the father of the Moabites. Ben-ammi became the father of the Ammonites. [Genesis 19:30-38]

How did Moab and Ammon get the land from the Valley of Siddim north to Gilead as their territory? In Deuteronomy 2:9, God commanded Moses and the Israelites not to provoke Moab and in verse 19, Ammon, because He gave Ar (the Arnon River area) “to the sons of Lot as a possession.” The descendants of Lot enlarged their borders from southeast of the Dead Sea to the Gilead region. Before the Israelites came through on their exodus pilgrimage, King Sihon of the Amorites invaded the Ammonites and took the fertile land of Gilead for himself. When the Israelites arrived there before crossing the Jordan River they found King Sihon claiming ownership of Gilead. They defeated him and his army to take the land as their part of their inheritance from God. The Israelites took possession of the land of the Amorites as their own. [Judges 11:1-28] Though the Israelites helped the Ammonites by defeating King Sihon who defeated them, they were angry toward the Israelites (Judges 11:1-28). The Ammonites felt God promised them the land, though in Deuteronomy 2:9, God told the Israelites He gave Ar (, the area from the Arnon River to the southeastern area of the Dead Sea) to the sons of Lot.

To sum this up, Ammon was a nation that came from Lot’s son out of an incestuous relationship he did not condone with his youngest daughter. God gave the Ammonites and Moabites the land east of the Jordan River from the Valley of Siddim to the Arnon River. Ammon occupied territory in Gilead above the Arnon River for a while until King Sihon of the Amorites took it by force. The Israelites took it from the Amorites and claimed it as part of their inheritance from God.

Though the Ammonites were not happy their distant relatives defeated their enemy. We will soon learn they harbored jealousy against the Israelites because of greed. Besides that sin for which God would judge the Ammonites, they worshiped false gods, the chief being Milcom and Molech. Because of the latter, God commanded the Israelites not to marry the Ammonites-they would cause the Israelites to worship false gods, too. [Exodus 23:31-33 & 34:12-16, and Deuteronomy 7:3] King Solomon blatantly disobeyed the command of God during his reign. His first heir, Rehoboam, who would succeed him as king, came from his wife, Naamah, an Ammonite.

The Charge against Ammon

As Amos did with the four earlier prophecies of other nations, he would do again. He prophesied to Israel God’s charge and judgment against another nation – Ammon. As Amos did in the first four prophecies, naming their chief cities intending it to represent the whole nation, he did in verse fourteen by naming Rabbah to receive God’s judgment. In this study, we will consider God’s charge and judgment alongside Ammon’s history. The last major part of this study will consider the fulfillment of God’s judgment against Ammon. After these, we should consider what God wanted Israel to hear, learn, and consider then apply those to ourselves today. Just as Ammon and Israel needed to return to a right relationship with the Lord, so we, too, need to return to a right relationship with the Him.

Just as Amos began the earlier four prophecies, he began this one with the prophetic form about which we learned in our second Amos Bible study, Amos and the Judgment of Damascus. Amos prophesied for God to Israel. God laid His charge against Ammon in verse thirteen. Amos said,

“Thus says the LORD, ‘For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders.’” [NASB]

Again we see the prophetic form used: “For three transgressions and for four I will not revoke its punishment.” Remember, in biblical numerology three plus four equals seven and seven numerically denotes completion. The people of Ammon had measured up sin upon sin and God could take no more. God’s righteousness requires justice when sins amass with no repentance and return to Him. Just as a loving father has mercy upon his child, eventually, because of his love, discipline must occur. This will bring the child from rebellion to return to a right relationship with the parents. God gave Ammon mercy and grace, but now their sins were too great and the loving Father had to intervene with judgment. God would not revoke His judgment because they needed it to instigate their guidance back to Him hopefully.

Amos was not the only prophet to prophesy against Ammon. Jeremiah 49:1-6, Ezekiel 21:28-32 & 25:2-10 and Zephaniah 2:8-9 each prophesied for the LORD against Ammon. Consider what these prophets said:

“Concerning the sons of Ammon. Thus says the LORD, ‘Does Israel have no sons? Or has he no heirs? Why then has Malcam taken possession of Gad and his people settled in its cities? Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘That I will cause a trumpet blast of war to be herd against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and it will become a desolate heap, and her towns will be set on fire. Then Israel will take possession of his possessors,’ says the LORD.” [Jeremiah 49:1-2, NASB]

“And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD GOD concerning the sons of Ammon and concerning their reproach,’ say” ‘A sword, a sword is drawn, polished for the slaughter, to cause it to consume that it may be like lightning.’ ‘I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and I will give you into the hand of brutal men, skilled in destruction.’” [Ezekiel 21:28 & 31, NASB]

“‘I have heard the taunting of Moab and the revilings of the sons of Ammon with which they have taunted My people and become arrogant against their territory. Therefore, as I live,’ declares the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Surely Moab will be like Sodom and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah.’” [Zephaniah 2:8-9a, NASB]

Amos did not prophesy just against Ammon in this verse. Since he spoke the prophecy to Israel, it was for their consideration about their lives and nation, too. God was trying to get Israel’s attention so they would repent before He charged and judged them again. He wants a loving relationship with His children. God had given them mercy and grace. He sent several prophets before Amos, and though the Israelites repented and returned to Him, they quickly returned to their rebellious ways. Fatherly discipline was due for the Israelites, too.

Now, let’s consider the words Amos used in the prophecy of God’s charge against the Ammonites. Even in English, this charge against them shows their unusual harshness against their supposed enemies, Israel. Ripping open wombs and killing unborn babies is heinous. We need to understand what Amos’ words in Hebrew mean so we can understand exactly what he meant when he prophesied. The word “ripped” comes from the Hebrew word baqa’ (baw-kaw). Baqa’ and means to split, rip, or tear open. “In order” comes from the word ma’an (mah-an) and means with the purpose or intent. Gilead is the rocky region between the southern end of the Sea of Galilee and the northern end of the Dead Sea on the eastern side of the Jordan River. Gilead was the promised land for the tribe of Gad and part of the tribe of Reuben. With these words better defined from their Hebrew meaning, we understand better what Amos said. He said the Ammonites with intent tore open the wombs of pregnant women in Gilead intentionally to keep them from bearing more children and to keep any future child from inheriting the land of God’s promise. When they ripped open the wombs of the women, they took away the future of the Gadites and Reubenites, God’s chosen people. The Ammonites because of greed and jealousy intentionally killed the future heirs of the Promised Land of Gilead so no claimants of Israel would arise to claim the land of Gilead as their own. Ammon would do anything, including kill unborn babies and pregnant women, to get what they coveted, the Promised Land.

The Ammonites stole the Israelites’ inheritance from the LORD. Their sin was not accidental, but intentional. They knew of the God of their father Lot, but they allowed their greed and jealousy to guide them. The Ammonites wanted to widen their borders and own more and better land. The Ammonites took the land, the future generations, and the confidence of the people of Gilead because of their greed. They wanted the wealth they saw the Israelites had from the land, but refused to recognize it came from the hand of the LORD. The Ammonites wanted their land back no matter who they had to fight to get it, even though the LORD only allotted them land from the Arnon River south. They forgot the story of their ancestor, Lot, who was wealthy and protected by the LORD when He laid Sodom and Gomorrah to ruins. The Ammonites forgot God provided for and protected them because they were part of His chosen ones.

·         Ammon was not grateful and instead coveted jealously what Israel had. They forgot every good thing come from God.
·         Have you ever wanted what someone else has and becoming jealous of them?
·         Have you ever deceived or hurt someone to get what that person had?

The History of Ammon

Let’s now consider the history of the charge of God against Ammon. Even before the Israelites settled into the Promised Land, God commanded them not to marry the Ammonites because they were pagans and would cause the Israelites to worship false gods. Consider these Bible passages: Exodus 23:31-33 & 34:12-16, and Deuteronomy 7:3-4. The latter says,

“You shall not intermarry with them. You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons. For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods, then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.” [NASB]

Through Moses in Deuteronomy 23:3-4, God told the Israelites,

“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD because they did not give the Israelites on exodus any food or water and because they hired Balaam (a prophet) of Mesopotamia to curse you.” [NASB]

The Ammonites were not a helpful people. Even though related to the Israelites by blood, they hoarded what was theirs and did not share. The Ammonites hired a prophet to curse the Israelites. He refused. That prophet was Balaam of Mesopotamia. They did not want the Israelites to have any of what they had or experienced in the land the LORD, their ancestor’s God, gave them. [Numbers 22:5 & 7, and chapters 31 and 35]

Later, when Saul was king over Israel, he and his 330,000 warriors battled the Ammonites in Jabesh-gilead because they besieged it and tried to take it from the Israelites. Those of the Ammonites who did not die Saul scattered so they could not regroup and rise up against him. [1 Samuel 11:1-15] Several historians say the Ammonites became vassals to Israel then. In 2 Samuel 10, we read of Ammon working with the Arameans to revolt and battle against Israel. David’s military captain, Joab, showed wisdom and the two armies fled in fear that day. In 2 Samuel 12:26-31, we read Joab and David subdued the revolting Ammonites in their key cities. They captured the land the Ammonites claimed as their own. The Ammonites kept rebelling against God’s will for the Israelites to have the Canaan lands. They showed their greed and were ready for battle against the Israelites continually.
Though God told the Israelites not to marry the Ammonites, Solomon took a wife from among the Ammonites, Naamah, and she bore him his first heir, Rehoboam. Rehoboam would become the first king of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel. A non-Israelite would rule Judah. At the time Rehoboam became king of Judah, Jeroboam I became ruler over Israel, the northern kingdom of Israel. Before and after this split in the kingdom, Ammon allied itself with the enemies of the Israelites. Their allies were Aram (1 Kings 22), Assyria, Chaldee (Babylonia) (2 Kings 24:2), and Meunim and Moab (2 Chronicles 20:1). Even with a half-Ammonite king over Judah, Ammon still attempted to take the land of Gilead from the Israelites.

Amos denounced the atrocious act of tearing open the wombs of pregnant women and killing the infants. Before Amos arose as a prophet, King Hazael of Aram did this same thing in 2 Kings 8:12. He did it before the Ammonites did. It was nothing new to the region. Menahem, later king of Israel from 752-742 BC, attacked Tiphsah and Tirzah (at the northern border of the northern kingdom on the Euphrates River) because they would not open its gates to him and accept him as their ruler. He killed struck and ripped open the wombs of the pregnant women. [2 Kings 15:16] Menahem learned this from the Canaanite people. If the Israelites had followed everything God commanded them, the Canaanite people would have had no influence over their culture, ways, and religion.

·         History seems to repeat itself. Aram, then Ammon, and next Israel ripped women apart and killed unborn babies.
·         Is there something that is against the law or against the consciences of people, yet people continue to do it?
·         Is there something you do God frowns upon and has spoken against, but yet you still do it? Possibly lying, white-collar theft, gossiping?
·         God is still God and sin is still sin. What He spoke against in the beginning is still wrong and is rebellion against Him.
·         For what do you need to seek His forgiveness and mercy? For what do you need to claim His strength to stop doing?

The Judgment of Ammon

With verses fourteen and fifteen, Amos pronounced God’s judgment against the Ammonites. He said,

“‘So I will kindle a fire on the wall of Rabbah and it will consume her citadels amid war cries on the day of battle, and a storm on the day of tempest. Their king will go into exile, he and his princes together,’ says the LORD.”

One of the first things we should note when we read God’s judgment here is Amos did not prophesy that the Ammonites would “perish” like he said of the Philistines. Let’s keep that in mind as we continue our study of this passage.

As before, we must look at the Hebrew meaning of the English words used in this passage to get a clear understanding of what Amos said to the Israelites. The word “kindle” comes from the Hebrew word yatsath (yaw-tsath), which means to burn, set on fire, to be left desolate. The word “fire” we encountered in the earlier four judgments by God against the other nations. “Fire” is the supernatural flame representing God’s anger. “Fire” can be actual fire God sends from heaven to destroy a place and people or it can come as flames of war, just as in Numbers 21:28 and Isaiah 26:11. Rabbah was the capital city of Ammon and we note Amos used his same technique in the earlier prophecies. When he prophesied against Rabbah the capital, he prophesied against the whole nation of Ammon. The word “consume” comes from the Hebrew word ‘akal (aw-kal) which means to burn up, to destroy, or to devour as in oppression and fire. Citadels, we remember, mean the fortresses, strongholds, and palaces of the region. The term “war cries” is new to the prophecies of Amos. This term comes from the Hebrew word teruwmah (ter-oo-maw) It means to alarm and signal and is a shout or blast by the approaching army to embolden themselves and strike fear in the adversary. War cries cause confusion and terror. This tactic enabled the enemy to scare the people so fear befell the adversary before going into battle. The adversary would be more willing to run away or fight less hard thinking the battle was lost before it began. Soldiers and sports teams use this tactic even now. The word “storm” comes from the Hebrew word “ca’ar (sah-ar) and means tempest or whirlwind, like a tornado or hurricane that comes on suddenly. The word “tempest” means an overflowing wind that is surprisingly swift and effective in its destruction. The storm of God against Ammon would be so great it would overwhelm them with is speed, lack of mercy, and effectiveness. It would buffet the body, while the battle cry would affect the emotions and mind of the people. A tempest is irresistible. The victim would not know exactly when the war cry would occur so they needed to prepare. For the Israelites, God was telling them they needed to get right with Him now. The final word we need to understand to realize the extent of God’s judgment against Ammon is “prince.” It comes from the Hebrew word sar and can be the king’s sons or his rulers, captains, officials, or advisors. It can mean the priests of the people, too. They were the ones to prophesy over warriors and proclaim they would be victorious because their gods foretold it. Their priests held power over them. For Ammon, the priests worshipped Molcom and Molech.

By understanding these words, we better understand what Amos prophesied as God’s judgment against Ammon. God would come upon the nation of Ammon so quickly and strongly they could not resist Him. He would send His wrath upon their citadels and strong places. Those things they counted as their best defenses would fall due to the strength and power of God’s battle. Ammon’s king and princes, most likely the priests who blessed and encouraged them to battle against Israel, the LORD’s children, would go into exile. They would know the power of their gods could not deliver them from the One True God, Yahweh. The land Ammon coveted in Gilead, which God gave to Gad and Reuben, was not theirs to take. God would defend it and bring vengeance and wrath upon any enemy of the Israelites, in this case, Ammon. Rabbah, their stronghold, and the entire nation of Ammon would feel the results of God’s judgment. They would be without leaders and the Israelites would reclaim the land Ammon coveted jealously.

The Ammonites, though related to Israel by blood and having a promised land from God through Lot, continually and intentionally harassed and harmed the current and future children of Yahweh. They sided with Israel’s enemy, Nebuchadnezzar. Their jealousy of Israel’s prosperity from the land God gave them when they entered the Promised Land caused them to become enemies of their own relatives. Their greed caused their betrayal of family.

God jealously loves His children and protects them against their enemies. He will not let them stray far from Him whether they get lazy in obeying His commands or rebel and worship other gods. God’s jealous love for His children will cause Him to defend or discipline His people. His judgments would occur against Ammon in due time. They occurred in several waves throughout the years. When Ezekiel spoke his prophecy against Ammon in Ezekiel 21:22, & 28-32 and in Ezekiel 25:2-10, God’s judgment against Ammon escalated to utter destruction just as it did against Edom. The people of Ammon did not return to Him and continued to harass and harm His people, the Israelites. God’s judgment against Ammon escalated just as we saw against Edom. He utterly annihilated them as a people and nation.

·         Have you ever felt like you were totally alone against the world to defend yourself from beggars, thieves, con artists, and people trying to defame your integrity?
·         Did you get weary of having constantly to protect yourself and your things?
·         How can we get peace when we feel we have to defend what we have and who we are so often?

The Fulfillment of God’s Judgment against Ammon

The fulfillment of God’s prophecies against Ammon began with King Solomon [1 Samuel 11:1-5] as we noted earlier in the section called The History of Ammon. In 1 Chronicles 20:1 and 2 Samuel 12:26-31, David and his captain of the army, Joab, led an army against Ammon, ravaged Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. Both battles against the Ammonites came before Amos’ prophecies, but were still judgments of God against Ammon for their betrayal, greed, and jealousy.

As Ezekiel prophesied, Nebuchadnezzar conquered Ammon. After Ammon helped the army of King Nebuchadnezzar of Neo-Babylonia defeat and loot Jerusalem and the temple, that same army rose against Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Phoenicia in 582 BC. They took the key people of these nations – kings, princes, captains of armies, priests, etc. - into captivity and exiled them throughout their empire. Over time they intermarried with people in Babylon’s empire and became absorbed into Babylon. The remaining Ammonites who lived in Canaan probably were absorbed into the Arab society during the Roman Empire.

·         Have you experienced the ongoing harassment of a person who wants what you have: either your job, skills, possessions, or good name? Did that make you weary and possibly make you angry with them? It may feel like being stalked.
·         Have you ever envied something another person had and made that person’s life difficult because of your envy? Why did you think what they had was better than what God has given you?
·         What can you do to find contentment with what God has given you?

Recap

Ammon, though related to the Israelites by blood, harassed and harmed the Israelites continually and intentionally over hundreds of years. They did not offer aid when Moses asked for permission to go through their territory to get to the Promised Land. Instead of siding with and thanking Israel when they defeated Ammon’s enemies, King Sihon of the Amorites, they grew discontent, greedy, and jealous. Ammon sought ways to regain the land of Gilead from Israel. They attacked Jabesh-gilead. Ammon joined forces with Israel’s enemies and attacked them in Judah. They raided and robbed Jerusalem and the temple. Ammon’s warriors ensured the people of Gilead had no future heirs to challenge their claim to Gilead by ripping unborn babies from the wombs of pregnant women. They stole Israel’s confidence, its fertility, and its future. Ammon destroyed their name and became infamous for their actions against Israel.

God revealed He knew what the Ammonites did. His prophets, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, pronounced His charges and judgments against them. Being blood relatives should have caused the Ammonites to defend Israel, but it did not. Their betrayal against Israel was equal to and possibly greater than Phoenicia’s betrayal. The Phoenicians were not blood relatives of Israel. The greed of the Ammonites for the fertile land of Gilead blossomed from temptation and internal sin into flagrant sin when they acted upon their jealousy against the Israelites. The Ammonites, as Lot’s descendants, would have known about I AM, the God of Abraham and Lot. They worshipped the false gods Milcom and Molech, gods who gave nothing to them except fear. This led to the Ammonites jealousy and coveting Israel’s blessings from Yahweh. Ammon was not content with what they had, nor did they walk in the ways of the LORD. They did not look to the God of Israel who gave them their blessings. Instead they took matters into their own hands and took what they wanted causing fear and death, and ultimately their nation’s own utter destruction.

Conclusion

At points in our lives, we each experience pangs of jealousy because of what someone has, whether its possessions or fame. What we do about that jealousy determines who leads our lives. Jealousy comes from greed, from discontent with what God gives you. If you are not content, jealousy raises its head. If you do not quench your jealousy by turning to God and giving Him control of your heart, mind, and soul, then you act upon your jealousy. The acting out based on jealousy causes damage to the person against whom you covet and against your own self. It causes harm to the person you steal from be it their possession or integrity. When you act on your jealousy, it harms you, too. It steals from your integrity and makes you infamous. It ruins your name.

More than anything, retaining jealousy due to greed or acting it out is sin. Sin separates us from God. We could say jealousy is only sin when we act on it, but God stated it differently in the Ten Commandments. The last five commandments speak to jealousy/covetousness. If you covet a neighbor’s wife, husband, possessions, or any other thing he or she has, you will commit adultery, murder, steal, and bear false witness against that neighbor to get what you want. Exodus 20:13-17 stated these last five commandments. Moses spoke God’s commandments to the Israelites saying,

13You shall not murder. 14You shall not commit adultery. 16You shall not steal. 16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” [NASB]

You see from reading these five verses that jealousy can lead to each of them and they are each sins. Jealousy is the root of these sins. Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 15:11, “It is not what enters the mouth that defiles the man but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles him.” [NASB] When Peter later asked Jesus to explain the parable, in verses seventeen through twenty, Jesus told them,

“Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” [NASB, emphasis is from the author]

Evil includes things that come from the heart. Before any action occurs regarding greed and jealousy, the thoughts of a person’s heart determines if he or she has already sinned.

What hope do we have then? Will we always be prone to sin and should we just give up now? No, Paul spoke about this in Ephesians 4:17-31 when he spoke about the Christian’s walk. He said,

“So this I say and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles [the non-believers] walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart, and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard of Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind [your heart], and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer, but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”[NASB, emphasis by author]

As believers in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit renews our minds, our hearts. We put on the mind of Christ as Paul said in Philippians 2:5-11. He humbled Himself to the point of obedience, even the obedience that led him to the agonizing death on a cross. How do we have this mind of Christ and overcome the temptations of our old self? Jesus gives this mind to each believer through His Holy Spirit. He gives the Holy Spirit to each believer to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7011). The Holy Spirit lives in each believer’s heart (Romans 8:9, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 12:13). He teaches (John 16:13, John 15:16, 1 Corinthians 12:3), guides (John 14:16), gives glory to Christ (John 16:14), and grows fruit in believers (1 Corinthians 12). By the Spirit’s residing in, teaching, guiding, and convicting believers, we each grow to have the mind of Christ.

With the mind of Christ we do not sin in our hearts or in outward actions and words. We have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to give us the power to overcome temptation and sin.

When God sent Amos to Israel to pronounce His charge and judgment on Ammon, He hoped the hearts of Israel would hear and return to Him so He would not have to judge and discipline them, too. The Israelites were unfaithful to their covenant with God. They rebelled continually and sometimes intentionally.

Today, we, too, rebel against God. Whether Christian or not, we fall to the temptation being discontent with God and His blessings, and seek for more – stuff and/or fame. When we seek to be like Christ, have His mind and become renewed in our spirit, the spirit of the world that seeks constantly to gratify self first falls away to reveal humility and obedience because of love for God and other people.

We can have the mind of Christ. We can be renewed in the spirit.

Seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added to you, Christ said. [Matthew 6:33] Seek God’s will and you will have all you need and desire.

No more sin. No more pain. No more need.
Greed will go. Jealousy will vanish.

The beacon of God’s light will shine from us.
Others will see the love of God,
His mercy and grace,
through the love of Jesus lived out in our lives.