Tag Archives: Eden

Romans 8:9-11 – We Are Sacred Space – Garden and Mountain

Romans 8:9–11 (ESV) — 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

 

 

The “Spirit of God dwells in you”.

  • This has to be one of the most profound statements in the Bible.

 

As with virtually everything in Romans…

  • The implications are huge.

 

Paul says that the one in whom the Spirit of God dwells is:

  • (1) “Not in the flesh” – vs. 9.
  • (2) Belongs to God (by implication).
    • Because those who don’t have the Spirit do “not belong to him” – vs. 9.
  • (3) Have a body that “is dead
  • (4) Yet, in spite of this “the Spirit is life because of righteousness” for the believer – vs. 10.
  • (5) Will be given “life to your mortal bodies” – vs. 11.

 

We saw what the first two of these meant last week.

  • The second three are some exciting ways Paul applies the presence of the Spirit to the life of the believer.

 

Specifically:

  • The third one tells us that the believers “body is dead”.

Meaning, “…their physical bodies remain subject to death because of sin. The corruption and mortality introduced by Adam’s sin have not as yet been fully eradicated. The eschatological tension of the ‘not yet’ remains as the tragic cycle of birth, life, and death continues for the time being” – Michael Bird.

 

Yet, Paul’s fourth point tells us that even in the midst of this death…

  • The believer has the “no condemnation” (vs. 1) life in the Spirit – the life and peace of verse 6.

 

The reason the believer has this life is because the presence of the Holy Spirit demonstrates that…

  • We are in Christ and have been declared righteous – “because of righteousness”.

 

The fifth is the “not yet” blessing of having the Spirit of God.

  • The declaration of our righteousness in God’s law court…
  • Also means that in the future, our righteousness will be fully fleshed out…literally…in our glorified resurrected bodies!

 

Certainly, more can be said of these.

  • And there are also the normal “Christianeze” descriptions of this indwelling:
  • Indwelling as the power that “empowers them to live a life pleasing to God” – DPL.
  • Indwelling as the “power to make the saving events of Jesus’ life-death-resurrection present in an effective way for the believer” – DPL.

 

But what I want to dive deeper into Paul’s revelation that…

  • …the Spirit of God dwells in” the believer.

 

We’re going to do so in a little different way.

  • Specifically, we are going to tease out some Old Testament concepts.

 

We will see that the indwelling of the Spirit in the NT fulfills two expectations of the OT.

  • Lasting Submission
  • Lasting Sacred Space

 

 

Lasting Submission:

A constant theme in the OT is that of a heart/mind in rebellion to God.

  • Moses speaks to this as well as anybody in Deuteronomy.
  • Deuteronomy 9:24 (ESV) — 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.

 

An idea repeated even in the N.T.

  • Acts 7:51 (ESV) — 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.

 

But along with the recognition of the problem…

  • There is an understanding of the nature of the solution.

 

Moses speaks of the solution this way…

  • Deuteronomy 10:16 (ESV) — 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

 

This solution is a transformation of the heart/mind.

  • But how exactly is this to be accomplished?
  • How are those with believing loyalty in God to have a lasting (in a now and not yet since) submission to God from a circumcised heart/mind?

 

Ezekiel and Isaiah shed some light on how this would happen.

  • Ezekiel 36:26–27 (ESV) — 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
  • Isaiah 44:3 (ESV) — 3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

 

The thirsty land and the dry ground of the stubborn heart and mind…

  • Need to be permanently (or at least “now and not yet” permanently) broken up and softened.
  • The occasional softening by natural rain, and will power, doesn’t last.
  • These don’t bring lasting submission.

 

Lasting submission to God comes from a new heart and renewed mind.

  • It comes from the “phroneo” of the things of the Spirit that Paul speaks of in Romans 8.

 

And this only happens when the believer is made new by the Spirit of God.

  • “The Spirit is the power of new creation…” – DPL.

 

So the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the regeneration – being born again – language of the NT.

  • And it is the fulfillment of the hope for a lasting submission as expressed by Moses and others.

 

So when the Spirit dwells in us – regenerating our hearts/minds…

  • We enter into lasting submission to God.
  • The stubborn heart/mind is “now and not yet” vanquished forever!

 

There is one more cool aspect to what Paul has in mind with being dwelled by the Spirit.

  • Along with lasting submission, it brings lasting sacred space.

 

 

Lasting Sacred Space:

I’ll let Paul get us started.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) — 19 Or 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

 

This revelation of Paul is awesome.

  • We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
  • And thus, this means we are “a temple”.
  • “We are the place where God dwells— the same presence that filled the temple in the Old Testament” – Michael Heiser.

 

Wow!

  • What are we to make of this?

 

To begin to fathom the implications of this aspect of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…

  • We need to unpack exactly what this temple imagery represented to a first century Jew.

 

We are going to look at two examples.

  • Both of which deal with the idea of Sacred Space (or Cosmic Geography).
  • (1) Temple as the Sacred Space of the Garden of Eden
  • (2) Temple as the Sacred Space of a Cosmic (seen and unseen realms) Mountain

 

 

Sacred Space – Garden of Eden:

In the OT, the Temple was seen as analogous to the Garden of Eden.

  • “As the divine abode, the tabernacle/temple was also analogous to Eden” – Michael Heiser.

 

G.K. Beale gives a number of reasons to make this point – here are 5.

  • (1) The Garden, like the Temple, was “the place of God’s special presence where he made himself known and felt to Israel”.
  • (2) The Garden, like the Temple, had a priest (Adam) to guard and keep the sacred space.
  • (3) “The tree of life served as a model for the lampstand, which was clearly shaped as a tree, in the Temple”.
  • (4) The Garden was known as “the holy mountain of God” (Ezk. 28), just like Mount Zion – the location of the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

We might also recall from our lessons on Genesis 1-3…

  • That the Garden implied God’s Garden presence, blessing and life.

 

But Adam, the High Priest of the Garden Temple, was thrown out.

  • God’s Garden presence, blessing and life didn’t last.

 

And every person born since then has been born in Garden Exile.

  • Born outside of God’s Garden presence, blessing and life.
  • The Sacred Space of Eden didn’t last!

 

How can the Sacred Space of Eden be restored?

  • By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

 

To be a “temple of the Holy Spirit” is to be, (in some sense), a new Garden.

  • The Spirit’s indwelling means (in some sense) we have returned to Eden.

 

 

Sacred Space – Cosmic Mountain:

We saw that the Garden in Eden and the Temple in Jerusalem were God’s Holy Mountains.

  • Simple enough.

 

But we need to know that…

  • In an ancient Jewish context, God’s Holy Mountain was the place where His divine council (1 Kings 22:19-21) met.
  • Zechariah 8:3 (ESV) — 3 Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.

 

This means that the Holy Mountain was also the place from which God battled the powers of darkness.

  • The Psalmist speaks of this.
  • Psalm 48:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north [Zaphon], the city of the great King.
  • (Also think of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel).

 

We need to notice:

  • In Ugarit, “Zaphon” is the mountain from which Baal ruled – Heiser.
  • The HALOT actually uses the phrase “mountain of the gods”.

 

In fact, the Canaanites referred to “Zaphon” as:

  • “Baal’s ‘beautiful hill,’ his ‘inheritance,’ his ‘holy mountain,’ and a ‘lovely, mighty mountain’” – NIVZSB.

 

All of this means the mountain, “Zaphon”, would be where Baal held his divine council.

  • A council operating in opposition to Yahweh.

 

And interestingly it is “Zaphon”, Baal’s mountain…

  • That was the mountain in “the far north”.
  • But the Psalmist identifies Mount Zion, which is south, with the northern mountain “Zaphon”.

 

So what is going on in this text?

  • Why associate Mount Zion with a Northern mountain?
  • How does it reflect a battle against the powers of darkness?

 

By associating Mount Zion with “Zaphon”, the Psalmist is describing a Cosmic Mountain turf war.

  • One in which the winner is YHWH (Heiser).

 

It is YHWH who is:

  • The “great king” – not Baal.
  • And it His Mountain, Zion, that is “the joy of all the earth” – not “Zaphon”.

 

So what we have is:

  • “The psalmist is stealing glory from Baal, restoring it to the One to whom it rightfully belongs— Yahweh” – Michael Heiser.
  • And he does so by rightly subsuming and collapsing Baal’s mountain and council into Yahweh’s.
  • So Psalm 48, “deliberately argues that Yahweh is greater than Baal and that his dwelling place is greater than Baal’s” – NIVZSB.

 

In other words, this is a polemic turf war against Baal, his mountain and divine council.

  • Just like the ones we saw in our Joshua study.
  • Such as when God controlled the chaos of Baal’s river (the Jordan) and enabled the Israelites to pass through.

 

BTW – Michael Heiser makes this observation about the OT turf war:

“The New Testament portrays the Christian life— even the very Christian existence— as prompting a spiritual turf war. But we often don’t pick up on the messaging. Sacred space and realm distinction are not just Old Testament concepts” – Michael Heiser.

  • He goes on to say – “wherever believers are and gather, the spiritual ground they occupy is sanctified amid the powers of darkness” – Michael Heiser.

 

But, like the Garden, the Cosmic Mountain’s reign was temporary.

  • The throne room of Mount Zion’s Temple was repeatedly destroyed.
  • It didn’t last.

 

So how can the Sacred Space of God’s Holy Mountain be restored?

  • How about through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  • Like “Zaphon”, we have been claimed as God’s turf – His Holy Mountain – His Sacred Space.

 

Isaiah knew this “lasting” Sacred Space would come:

  • Isaiah 33:20 (ESV) — 20 Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken.

 

Isaiah’s words express the hope for a lasting Mount Zion and Temple/tabernacle.

  • One to be fulfilled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that Paul teaches.

 

And yet – even as awesome as all this is…

  • There is still a “not yet” aspect to it to be fulfilled.
  • A fulfillment that punctuates the “Lasting Sacred Space” idea.
  • Revelation 3:12 (ESV) — 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.