Tempted, but not Wandering, in the Wilderness

November 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Luke | Leave a comment
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And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

Luke 4:1

At first glance it may seem very strange that Jesus would be led BY THE SPIRIT into a place of temptation rather than straight into His public ministry. Believers today receive the Holy Spirit upon salvation. One of the Old Testament pictures of our salvation was when the Israelites left Egypt and went out into the wilderness before getting to enter the promised land. That sequence may also have been arranged by God partly to foreshadow Christ’s foray into the wilderness after He received the Spirit.

In Matthew we are shown Jesus going to Egypt for safety the way that Jacob and his sons did after Joseph was taken there, but Luke did not record that event in His life.

Jesus did not go into the wilderness because He was being chastened for provoking God the way the Old Testament Israelites did. He did go into the wilderness to be tested, though.

Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

Luke 4:2-3

Satan is always subtly playing to our pride. He knows the power of pride because it led to his own downfall. One of the reasons that the devil is often depicted today as this caricature in a red suit with a tail and a pitchfork is because there was a time when it was thought that the best way to combat him was to attack his pride by making him look silly. The Bible does not portray him as being that easily defeated. Christ defeated Satan, and withstood his temptations, by exercising humility and proclaiming the Word of God.

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Does “Everyone” Include Satan?

July 21, 2017 at 10:01 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: We were telling our children that God loves everyone, but then they asked, “Does God love the devil?” What should I tell them?

Answer: First of all, you are correct in telling them that God loves everyone “in the world” (John 3:16). Of course, we also need to let our children know that God loves in greater ways than we do, and that God is so much greater than, and different from us, that it is possible for Him to harmonize His will and His feelings in ways that are not possible for us. In other words, God’s feelings are perfectly controlled, and are more holy than ours, so it is possible for Him to love His enemies (Romans 5:8) and hate His enemies (Psalm 5:5, 11:5) at the same time.

When it comes to the devil (and the angels for that matter), the Bible does not give us specific information on God’s “feelings” about them. He created them, and the angels obey Him, which must please Him, and He is love (I John 4:8), so it is possible that He loves them, but the Bible never really emphasizes that, as far as I know. Satan and his demons, on the other hand, disobeyed Him, and He cast them out, and He has not devised a plan of redemption for them the way that He has for us fallen human beings, so it is probably reasonable to say that God does not love them in the same way that He loves us (if He loves them at all).

What I would emphasize to children is that the devil made a horrible choice in trying to make himself equal to God (Isaiah 14:12-14) and he paid for it. Still, he does not want to be forgiven. He hated God first without a cause, and that will never change. Our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, committed the same sin: disobedience and self-idolatry (and, sadly, we still do it too, every day). But the fact that God was still willing to die for us, and forgive us, shows how great His love for us truly is. Meanwhile, no matter what His feelings toward Satan are, because He loves us, He will one day imprison Satan forever and ever in order to protect us from him (Revelation 20:3-10).

Doubting Disciples Duped by Demonic Distractions

April 25, 2017 at 11:53 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Mark | 1 Comment
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And Jesus went out, and his disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way he asked his disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am?

Mark 8:27

Most of us are self-conscious enough to think that it would probably sound prideful and arrogant to others if we went around asking, “What are people saying about me?” So we don’t overtly ask it, but the truth is that there are many people who are dying to know what others are saying about them. As parents we tell kids, “It doesn’t matter what people say about you,” and there is some truth to this, but it does matter what we THINK and what we SAY about Jesus.

And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 8:29-31

Jesus had summoned the Disciples to tell them secrets.

Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

John 15:14-15

Servants of the King do as they’re told; friends of the King get to know the King’s secrets because they have a PATTERN of doing what they’re told.

And he charged them that they should tell no man of him.

Mark 8:30

The Jewish leaders would not have allowed this confession (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”) to go unpunished, and it was not yet the appointed time for the Crucifixion. The common people were showing unbelief and false faith, and most of them just wanted to see more miracles. Now the Disciples were confused. Peter believed Jesus was the Son of God, so how could He allow sinful men to crucify Him?

And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.

Mark 8:31-32

Jesus responded:

But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

Mark 8:33

Peter knew the Truth, but he thought he could question the Truth just a little and still be dealing in “Truth.” That’s not how it works. The minute we question the Truth, we start speaking for Satan. Peter was not possessed by the devil, but his words were the influence of Satanic-type thinking. They were the seeds of lies dressed as doubt. Satan will often disguise a lie as a question (or an excuse, which is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie).

Jesus did not say, “I bind you, Satan. I cast you out of this city. I issue you a warrant of spiritual eviction…” He did not say, “I hate you, Devil. The blood of Jesus is against you, Devil. You can’t have Peter, you old Devil.” No, Jesus dealt in Truth, not diatribes against Satan. He simply told Satan to get behind Him because Satan was causing Peter to talk about the philosophy of man, not the Truth of God.

The Gospel of Mark stresses Jesus in His role as Servant – staying busy – moving forward – no time for a “side battle” with the devil. Many Christians enjoy fighting devils so much that they don’t know how – or don’t want – to go forward in their Christian lives. They turn around and try to fight some demons. They don’t say “get behind me, Satan” because they don’t have enough faith to turn their back on him. Some don’t say “get behind me, Satan” because if they had a victory over Satan, they would have to look inside their own hearts to deal with the sin there.

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Mark 8:34-36

Satan promises you glory, but in the end you receive suffering. God promises you suffering, but in the end suffering is transformed into glory.

Did the Devil Flood Livingston Parish?

September 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Posted in The Flood | 3 Comments
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If you are truly a Christian, then you have to have a certain level of loyalty to God. After all, He is your Father, Savior, Redeemer, and Provider. Therefore, it is somewhat natural to want to stick up for Him when others might question His actions. This can be a good thing, but it can also be problematic when our loyalty tips over into finite rationalizations. In other words, we want to give people a high opinion of our God (to “glorify” Him), but we also want to be honest. In other other words, God doesn’t need a PR agent.

We have seen this dynamic at work in the wake (pun intended) of the recent flooding in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, and the adjacent parishes. “God is all-powerful and omniscient, so how could all this devastation have happened on His watch?” we are afraid someone will ask. And the all-too-often-heard rationalization-in-advance is to blame-shift onto Satan. “God didn’t send all this rain into these too-narrow rivers, creeks, and bayous. God doesn’t ‘do evil.’ The devil did this for evil, and God will turn it around and use it for good.” It sounds helpful. It even sounds hopeful. But – and this is what really matters to God – is it true?

Does the devil control the weather? I want to be cautious here, and admit that Satan is certainly powerful. He is so much more powerful than any human being that we can not even make a proper comparison. However, he is a pipsqueak compared to God. As a created being himself, it is certain that Satan is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and can only be said to be “omnipresent” in the limited sense that he may have demonic agents feeding him information and doing his bidding in all parts of the world. The only place to find reliable information about who can control the weather – God and Satan, or God and God alone – is the Bible.

Now, my wife made an excellent point when we discussed this. What the devil CAN do is this: He can seize upon the opportunity created by the aftermath of the flood and tempt people to become discouraged, to become bitter, to give up, to look for escape from their troubles in sinful habits and addictions, to turn away from God, to become divisive and petty, and (his specialty) to become proud – proud of their community, proud of their neighbors, proud of their church, proud of the way they themselves behaved in a crisis, and even proud to be a Christian (oxymoronic as that is!)

However, the Bible evidence is nearly incontrovertible that God is in charge of the weather – even the extreme weather events that we call catastrophes. The only possible support for the counterargument that I can find is the account of Job’s children, who were killed, as part of a challenge between God and Satan, with a “great wind” that blew their house down on top of them. However, even in that instance, the same account calls the lightning which took out the sheep and the servants the “fire of God,” so, presumably, Satan, acting under God’s permission, had to borrow some weather elements from God, or, perhaps, ask God to use them Himself.

All of which gives me the confidence to say that, no, the devil did not sneak around God’s throne, weasel himself into the royal Heavenly restroom, and break the plumbing, spilling four trillion gallons of rain right on top of southeastern Louisiana in a 24 hour period. It may not sound sentimental, and it may give ammunition to amateur skeptics and those bitter at a God too great for us to “figure out,” but, as His children, we are to rejoice over the fact that God is supremely in control of all events in, and beyond, this world, and that what He does is always right and always good, weather whether we like it or not, or weather whether we understand it or not.

For the the glory of His name, and for the good of His Son and His Son’s redeemed people, God flooded Livingston Parish, Louisiana, on the weekend of August 13-14, 2016, and He did not choose to fill us in on what the kids call “the deets.” It may be a hard truth, but it is a true truth, and for those who suffered in it and through it, we are better off facing this truth. As the old song says, “When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.” Some folks move to Chicago, some folks move into their neighbors’ homes, and some folks move into a FEMA trailer. But all of God’s folks need to move closer to the true God of the Bible, and need to move into the lives of their neighbors who have not yet met the Savior and tell them the good news that the God of the flood will forgive you for your sins and give you eternal life when – AND ONLY WHEN – you repent, believe the Gospel, and trust His Son.

The Victorious Humility of the Last Adam

December 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Matthew | 6 Comments
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Lord, help us to accept our circumstances, which are ordained by You. Help us to learn truths which will be encouraging. Help us not to be pessimists, drudging along dreading each trial. At the same time, please help us not to be fragile children, happily hopping around when things are great, but losing faith each time You test us or try us. Help us to delight ourselves in Your statutes, and not to forget Your Words when everything around is yelling at us to depend on ourselves, and not on You. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

As people gathered to hear the message of John the Baptist, he called the religious leaders a generation of vipers.

And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Matthew 3:4-9

This should remind us to be humble. God can raise up stones to do what you do – and do it better. John’s humility made him reluctant to baptize Jesus, but he did it upon Jesus’s insistence. When he did so, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove. Not like a royal eagle and not like not a bird of prey, but a bird of peace, a bird of mourning, a skittish bird. The Spirit of God indwelling us may be made to retreat when we sin against Him.

The Adam of Genesis 1 and 2 was the “first Adam.” Christ was the “last Adam.” Both the first Adam and the last Adam were tempted by Satan. The first Adam had everything he needed to resist this temptation. He lived in paradise. In Matthew 4, the last Adam went alone into a terrible wilderness, subjecting Himself to 40 days of fasting. The first Adam lost his battle with Satan, but Christ won.

Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness with three specific temptations.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

Matthew 4:3

This was Satan’s lie: “God doesn’t really love You, so put Your physical needs ahead of Your spiritual needs.”

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Matthew 4:7

Satan based this second temptation on a Bible passage:

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Psalm 91:11-12

His lie to Jesus amounted to “God’s Word isn’t really true,” but he omitted “in all Thy ways” when he quoted it to Jesus. It is very common for the devil to challenge God’s Word by trying to twist Scripture.

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Matthew 4:8-9

In the third temptation Satan tried to convince Christ to take the easy way – to adopt a form of “worship” that did not include service. It was as if he hoped Christ could be tricked into thinking He could abandon the Cross and still receive the glory. Beware of temptations that invite you to take a short cut around God’s will.

The Provision of Peace

December 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way? | 2 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)
IV. The Promise of the Paraclete (John 14:15-26)
V. The Provision of Peace (John 14:27-31)

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

John 14:27-31

Remember how John Chapter 14 started off: “Let not your heart be troubled…” Jesus told His disciples this because their hearts were troubled – very troubled. So, in His discourse He gave them words of encouragement about: a prepared place (Heaven); a particular path (Himself); the power of prayer (in His name); and the promise of the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit). He now restates the reason that He has been telling them these things:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

John 14:27

“Peace” is a popular idea these days. It has been a common theme in pop culture for years. When you see a hippie holding up two fingers, he is saying, “Peace, man.” Have you seen the bumper sticker that says, “Know Jesus, Know Peace / No Jesus, No Peace?” I saw one the other day that said, “Visualize World Peace.” We tend to like the idea of peace, but Jesus told His Disciples that “world peace” is way overrated.

The peace that Jesus gives is “not as the world giveth” – which is a good thing because worldly peace is a counterfeit peace. It is a peace that is entirely dependent on circumstances. It is at best a temporary, illusory peace. Jesus gives us a peace that is greater. He had already told the Disciples that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Now, in a sense, He is also telling them that, not only does He give them peace, but He Himself also is their peace.

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:13

This applies to the barrier between Jewish believers and gentile believers, but also to the barrier between holy God and sinful man.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

Ephesians 2:14

Jesus gives us peace by giving us Himself. He is our peace.

Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Ephesians 2:15

The Bible is not speaking here about emotional, psychological peace. It is speaking about the peace that ends a war. Enmity is hatred with a cause. When it came to the enmity between God and man, Jesus abolished it. He ended it – not just by making a truce or a cease-fire – but by reconciling two otherwise irreconcilable enemies. He did not bring God and man into mere tolerance of each other. He brought them into loving fellowship and everlasting familial bonds.

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Ephesians 2:16

Jesus killed the enmity between God and man for all those whom He saves. This is real peace, not the counterfeit peace which this “world’s system” advertises when it talks about “peace of mind.” It is no surprise that this world’s version of peace is a counterfeit peace, because it is controlled by the great counterfeiter, Satan.

Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

John 14:30

This world system is opposed to Christ largely because it is controlled by Satan, “the prince of the world,” (but not the Lord of all the Earth). Satan is a temporary usurper who has been granted a limited ability to exercise authority in order to maximize God’s glory. Jesus says that this temporary usurper “has nothing in Me,” meaning that Satan could never get a foothold in Jesus’s earthly life. Not one single solitary victory could Satan accomplish in the life of Christ. Jesus says to us that He is the provision of our peace, and Satan and this world will not rob us of the peace which He has won for us with God the Father.

But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

John 14:31

If you love the Father, your love for Him exists because Jesus has given it to you. Now, as the Father commanded Jesus to go, He commands us also to “arise” – to go. Worldly peace holds the false promise of the end of activity. “You are at peace, so you can rest. One day soon,” it says, “you can retire. You can move to the country, where you won’t have any pesky neighbors to bother you. You’ll have money to live on so you won’t have to go to work with a bunch of sinners. You can even order your groceries on the internet so you won’t have to go to the market and hear a bunch of cussing, and people blaspheming God’s name. You can just cultivate a small circle of Christian friends. You can come to church, but without getting too involved. You won’t have to get your hands dirty anymore, trying to minister to a bunch of filthy sinners. You will be able to putter around in your yard or in your workshop, and fish and hunt, or crochet and bake your way into the presence of King Jesus.” But Jesus says no! He says arise! It means get up and get moving! This peace is not physical rest. It’s spiritual rest. It’s the assurance that you are right with God and that Jesus is with you, not so you can escape from the world, but so you can overcome the world in Him!

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

Say no to world peace! Arise with the peace of God, and go make sure that this world either surrenders to Jesus or fights against Him, but never forgets that He is its rightful Lord.

The S.H.A.R.K. Principle (lesson 3)

April 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Posted in The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 1 Comment
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S.atan
H.ates

A.ll
R.eal
K.

There is a type of “knowledge” which is empty. It’s not “real” knowledge. It’s like a mirage. It looks interesting, but there’s nothing really there.

An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.

Romans 2:20

Beware of things which have a “form” but are empty. Satan teaches that outward appearances are everything. God teaches that outward appearances should be the result of real knowledge on the inside. Don’t let Satan squeeze you into this world’s mold. Get something substantial from God, from the Bible, and be changed on the inside – transformed, not conformed.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

II Timothy 3:1

Let’s see if it sounds like we’re in the “last days:”

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

II Timothy 3:2

Do you love yourself more than God and more than others? Do you wish God would have given to you what He has in fact given to someone else? (covetous) Do you desire to be looked up to, and to be told how “great” you are? (proud) Do you really believe that you are great? (boasters) Do you treat God’s name as an exclamation or an interjection? (“OMG”) Would you be satisfied if you had woken up this morning with only the things for which you had thanked God yesterday? (unthankful)

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 3:3-7

Appearing to learn something, while actually learning nothing, will not lead you to the truth, because Satan doesn’t have any real knowledge. He hates it. He only has fake knowledge, which is another name for “lies.”

S.atan
H.ates
A.ll
R.eal
K.nowledge

Did you know you have to have knowledge to go Heaven?

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I Timothy 2:3-5

I said to Heaven, not to God. Everyone is going to meet God, with or without genuine knowledge. In fact, all roads lead to God. It’s just that there will be an enforced U-turn when you get there, unless you are in Christ Jesus. This is what Satan hates and what he doesn’t want you to know. Jesus is the only Mediator – the only One Who can make peace between you and God so that you can be in His presence and live. The presence of God will be absolute bliss for all eternity if you have believed the Gospel and trusted Christ, but the presence of God will be unbearable torment without the Mediator.

If you don’t go into the ocean you’ll never have to worry about a great white shark. But if you’ve never been born again through saving faith in Christ, you had better worry about the Great White Throne. It is from there that God will throw unbelievers into the lake of fire.

The S.H.A.R.K. Principle (lesson 2)

April 3, 2014 at 10:20 am | Posted in The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 3 Comments
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S.atan
H.ates

A.ll
R.
K.

Satan is a lot of things. He’s a trickster. He’s a conniver. He’s a liar. He’s a deceiver. But he’s not a compromiser. When he is against something – and make no mistake about it, he is against the truth – he is against it all the way. He hates all integrity.

God allowed Satan to take away all of Job’s possessions and family (except his wife) because Satan said that Job only served God for God’s material blessings. When that didn’t work Satan challenged Job’s integrity over the issue of Job’s health. God has not promised you riches or physical health, but Satan would love for you to blame God and curse him when you lose those things. This didn’t work on Job, either, though.

And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

Job 2:3-4

Job was a man of integrity. He was whole – wholly devoted to God. Satan wants you to have a divided heart, because you can’t serve two masters. If he can get you divided, he knows he’s won.

He hates all integrity, and he hates all righteousness.

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

II Thessalonians 2:9-10

Satan knows that you can’t do anything truly righteous apart from God’s power. He will use his own power to imitate God’s power, and he can do supernatural signs and wonders – but they are lying wonders. He’s a copycat. He can’t create. You can’t be saved apart from the true righteousness, and Satan hates truth and righteousness.

He hates all integrity. He hates all righteousness. He hates all humility.

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.

Luke 4:5-6

If Jesus had agreed to bypass the Cross in exchange for Satan’s version of glory, then God would have been robbed of glory. Suffering for God glorifies God. Humiliation in this world for the cause of Christ glorifies God in eternity. I am reminded of the prayer associated with Zinzendorf and the Moravians: “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering!”

Satan loves pride and therefore he hates humility. He hates all the ways of the Lord.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?

Acts 13:8-10

The ways of the Lord are honest and open and upright. Christians are supposed to love without dissimulation. Satan’s ways are subtlety and mischief: bait and switch. They may look good and pragmatic, but they are really perversions. Beware of those who would trick you into coming to church by appealing to fleshly desires, or who would trick you into a false profession of faith for the sake of appearance. God’s way is truth. Satan hates God’s way.

Next time we’ll continue to look at what Satan hates.

S.atan
H.ates
A.ll
R.
K.

The S.H.A.R.K. Priniciple (lesson 1)

March 31, 2014 at 10:18 am | Posted in Luke, The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 3 Comments
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One of my greatest joys competes with one of my greatest fears. I am fascinated by, and terrified of, sharks (especially the great whites that breach up through the surface), but I love swimming in the ocean. I know it is not very likely that I will be devoured by a 2000-pound predator fifty yards from the shore, but I am still haunted by the knowledge that, while swimming, I am technically sharing the same space (the sea) where these creatures live, and there is the nagging sense of danger that comes from not being aware of what might be coming to get me.

In our spiritual lives, thankfully, we do not have to be unaware. Satan would like to destroy us, but we do not have to be ignorant of who he is or how he operates.

S.atan
H.
A.
R.
K.

Satan is a real “person” – a real being. You may have heard the theological statement that the devil is a “personal” devil. He’s not “personal” like a secret that is only between friends. He’s personal because he has a personality. He thinks thoughts. He has plans. He has feelings. He was made by God to be a creature with a will and a spirit. He’s not a fairy tale or a boogie monster, and he’s not just a symbol for evil. How do we know? Because Jesus said so.

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

Luke 10:17

Jesus had sent out 70 disciples, and they were excited because they had seen Jesus proven right. While they were witnessing for Him, God gave them power to subdue demons.

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Luke 10:18

Satan was originally an angel named Lucifer, but he rebelled against God, so God threw him and one-third of the angels (the ones who had taken Lucifer’s side in the rebellion) out of Heaven. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was there to see it happen.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

Luke 10:19-20

In these lessons I will say some things about Satan that may sound complimentary, but we must be careful never to give him any praise or adoration. Nor do I advocate making jokes about “beating him up” (a staple of the “Word of Faith” televangelists) or telling him to “go sit on a tack,” as I’ve heard in some children’s songs and lessons. We praise God for His victory over Satan. Only because of Him are true Christians on the winning side.

The S in S.H.A.R.K. is for Satan, and you stand as much of a chance against him as you would against a great white shark in the middle of the ocean – on your own. Thankfully, if you have trusted Christ, you are not on your own.

S.atan
H.ates

A.
R.
K.

I said before that Satan has a personality, which includes the idea that he has feelings. One of his most prominent feelings is hatred. His most prominent is pride (which tends toward hatred of others). One of the reasons why he is so often portrayed as this red-bodied, cartoonish figure with a pointy tail and a pitchfork is because at one time people thought the best way to combat him was to injure his pride. Therefore, they tried to make him look silly. Ironically, this is the way most people (inaccurately) think of him today.

God is a loving Being. Satan is not loving. But hatred is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. Neither God nor Satan are indifferent. Satan’s hatred is focused on robbing God of glory and destroying the creatures God loves.

He that hateth me hateth my Father also.

John 15:23

Jesus was speaking about the Jewish leaders who rejected Him.

If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

John 15:24

Those that hate and reject Jesus hate God also. We know that Satan hates Jesus because Jesus came to save those whom God loves, and to bring God the glory that Satan would like to steal by accusing God of unjustly forgiving sinners. God was both just and loving in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, which is why Satan tried so hard to stop Jesus from going to the Cross.

But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

John 15:25

Jesus didn’t give anyone a valid reason to hate Him or to crucify Him. It was done because we are fallen sinful creatures, and we loved sin more than we loved God. In the same way, God justifies those who trust in Christ “without a cause” – in other words, without finding anything in us worthy of justification.

Sharks don’t hate people until they have some motivation – hunger, territoriality, self-defense, mistaken identity. Satan doesn’t have much reason to hate you unless you love God. If you start glorifying God, you become his target. Of course, if you are not right with God, you have a bigger problem than Satan. You are in trouble with God and need the Savior.

Next time, we will look at the A. in S.H.A.R.K.

Who’s in Charge Here?

November 14, 2012 at 10:53 am | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It can be so tempting… Someone you really care about has experienced a tragedy like the unexpected death of a loved one. It’s not uncommon in situations like this for people to react with extreme grief. “How could God do this?” they will demand to know. In these days of social media, such expressions can find their outlet in very public places. I am thankful at times like these for opportunities to minister in the name of Christ. Jesus Himself knows what it is like to experience pain and sorrow (John 11:32-38; Luke 13:34). Great care must be taken, however, to avoid the temptation to lie about God in an attempt to make someone feel better, or even to protect God’s reputation.

Let’s use the example of a parent who is grieving over the death of his or her young child. Here are some of the common lies that well-meaning Christians use to try to keep hurting people from questioning God’s goodness or even existence:

“This was not God’s plan.”
“God just needed another angel.”
“God is not in control of the earth.”
“Satan owns this world until Jesus comes back.”
“God never causes pain.”

Perhaps the most dangerous thing about these statements is that they are the types of lies that we sometimes euphemistically call “half-truths.” Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44), specializes in this type of deceit. Mixing a lie in with the truth makes it all the more palatable.

Here is the truth: God can and sometimes does allow pain and tragedy. The Bible is replete with examples of God allowing the wicked to reap what they have sown, and even sending calamities and death to specific individuals and large groups of people. We don’t like to think of God having the power to spare a young child from death, and then refusing to exercise that power, but we do no service to God when we claim to know His secret counsel, and make a pronouncement that something was definitely not His plan, when in fact we simply do not know.

We also know that the angels are created beings. They exist in reality, but they are not former people who have died and gone to Heaven. The idea – popularized by everything from greeting cards to cartoons – that when people die they don a white gown, receive a halo, and float away on a white cloud playing a harp, is completely unsupported by Scripture. Is it really helpful anyway to suggest that God is lonely or lacking in Heavenly servants so that He sometimes selfishly takes away someone’s child to make another angel? The One True and Living God is not lonely. He is perfect, immutable, and lacks nothing.

Finally, we must beware of the lie propagated by the so-called “Word of Faith” or “Prosperity Gospel” movements. Many people tune in regularly to a religious television network called TBN and they have been deceived by the lie that man’s fall in the Garden of Eden gave Satan complete control over this world and locked God out pending Christ’s return. Pentecostals and Charismatics are especially susceptible to this heresy, which says that the way to activate God’s intervention into the devil’s domain here on Earth is to send up our “faith” in the form of “words,” which give God permission to make us healthy, wealthy, safe, or influential. Of course, the wealthy proponents of this false teaching will also tell you that your words of faith need to be accompanied by “love offerings” or “seeds of faith” that begin with a “$.” Again, anyone who buys into this religious Ponzi scheme has not honestly read the New Testament.

Men and women are fallen sinful creatures. Apart from the saving power of Jesus we enslave ourselves to the little “g” god of this world, Satan. But Satan has not overcome God. He has not locked God out of the earth. He has not tricked God nor unseated Him from His sovereign throne. For reasons which we can not fully understand, God allows Satan to operate with some authority in this world (subject to God’s ultimate control). If you know someone who is upset with God for taking someone they love, here are your choices:

1. Leave them alone and pray for them.
2. Pray for them, be there for them, and keep your mouth shut, your ears open, and your shoulder and tissues handy.
3. In a kind, loving, humble way, tell them the truth: God is Lord over all and He is completely in control (I Chronicles 29:11). Satan’s temporary, limited reign on this earth was broken and he was defeated by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection (Ephesians 4:8-27). Jesus Himself is seated at God’s right hand, and has been given all authority and power over everyone, every place, and every thing (Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:1-3).

And whatever you do, don’t lie about God. He is working all things together for His glory and the good of those whose trust is in Christ Jesus, whether it seems like “good” at the time to us or not (Romans 8:28).

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