74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
1901 ASV Translation:
73 The oath which he spake unto Abraham our father,
74 To grant unto us that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies should serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
In verse 74, the Textus Receptus has both a definite article before "enemies" and the possessive pronoun "our" after "enemies; the Nestle/Aland 26 has neither. In verse 75 the Textus Receptus has "all the days of our life" where the Nestle/Aland 26 has "in all of our days". The overall meaning is unchanged, though the Textus Receptus tends toward emphasis upon our "life" which the Nestle/Aland 26 simply does not mention.
1. Luke is winding up Zacharias' words regarding what Yahweh has done in sending the baby of Mary into the world. His words address two fundamental issues -- redemption and the horn of salvation -- but the focus is clearly upon the latter.
2. He is on the verge of dealing with Zacharias' words regarding the future of his own son, very recently born.
I. When we consider that Zacharias focused upon Yahweh's goal that we might "serve Him", it is clear that everything Yahweh has done has been done to bring us to the "servant" Kingdom.
A. In the years since, as men have debated the details of the divine methodology, the purpose has often been overlooked.
1. Any "interpretation", or "application", of the particulars of the divine Word that is made in abandonment of the eternal purpose is necessarily skewed and cannot be an accurate reflection of the Truth.
2. Thus, any "understanding" of the "truths" that abrogates the divine order in the Truth is, in reality, heresy and a distortion that can condemn.
3. This means that any understanding of "salvation" that does not include coming into a lifestyle of "service" to Yahweh is not "understanding", but "misunderstanding".
4. Thus, the preaching of "justification by grace through faith alone" must be carefully attended by the "hovering reality" that "justification" is, by design, a method for bringing people back into a working, personal, relationship with their Creator.
a. This "relationship" cannot be that of a reversed order of reality in which the creature assumes the position of a demonic deity and the Creator assumes the position of "anything you say, my Lord".
b. All proclamations of the Gospel which result in an impenitent lifestyle must, therefore, be subjected to scrutiny to see if it is the proclamation, or the distortion by the hearer, that has caused the notion of "I'm saved, but I'm not a servant of Yahweh".
c. One of the most destructive notions in this regard has been the idea that the production of the new birth has been turned over to the messengers as opposed to the biblical idea that the proclamation is the divine method of the divine process of "birthing" human beings into His Kingdom. In other words, Yahweh is still the One who brings people to life, or not, according to His plan to use, or not use, the presentation of the Gospel to a sinner.
d. If there is a "new birth", there is, of necessity, a new creation and a new order and a new relationship and a new motivation and a new way of thinking about Who is going to be served. If these necessities are not met, there has been no new birth. Thus, those who, in an ungodly way, say "I'm saved and I'm satisfied" are neither "saved" nor "satisfied". There is, of course, a legitimate way of saying "I'm saved and I'm satisfied" -- "I have been delivered from all my fears and I'm satisfied in my new relationship with my God and Father". But, to claim that "I'm saved and on my way to the Servant Kingdom" as a present and future "boss" is a lie, and to claim "I'm satisfied" with my truncated "salvation" because it allows me to live as a wicked person and then die to ascend to eternal life is also a lie. Unless, or until, Yahweh imparts His Spirit to indwell His creature, there has been no salvation, regardless of the affirmations of the lips.
B. The "service" that is the divine objective is characterized by two major realities.
1. The first "characterization" of the service is "holiness".
a. This word, in this form, is only used twice in all of the New Testament
1) It is interesting that Zacharias used this word, by the Spirit, to summarize the character of our "service" to Yahweh.
2) And, just as interesting, the apostle Paul used this word, by the same Spirit, to summarize the result of the new birth: the creation of a new man in "holiness" and "righteousness" (Ephesians 4:24).
3) The difference is that Zacharias had "holiness and righteousness" and Paul said "in righteousness and holiness".
4) It seems a bit odd that this word, used so rarely even in the LXX, would be chosen by the Spirit to fundamentally characterize the new life of a child born of God.
b. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that it fundamentally includes the harmony between inner attitude and outer action in respect to a commitment to immutable demand. The bottom line seems to be an internal sense of absolute boundary that is adhered to day in and day out in overt behavior.
c. Trench says that the word refers to something I call "absolute ground"...that absolute condition of God that precedes all revelation about God: His basic and immutable character whether revealed or not. It is so "basic" that it is revealed even when there are no words that specifically address it.
d. We knew this, of course: Yahweh cannot be served by anything less than the required "heart" attitude coupled to the required "behavior". This is why one must be delivered from his fears and a new "nature" imparted before he is, in any sense, capable of serving Yahweh.
2. The second "characterization" of the service is "righteousness".
a. This is the rather standard word for "legally valid behavior", when "legally" has its roots in the divine sense of justice.
b. This is a second emphatic statement that there has been a fundamental change of inner nature: men cannot "do" righteousness unless they have been "created in righteousness".
C. This "service" is to be pursued "all of our days".
1. There is no place in the new birth for the notion that "I will serve God ... later".
2. No one, God or man, is satisfied with disservice at any time. A Kingdom of Servants cannot peacefully exist in the presence of disservice.