The Vowels of Hell

May 20, 2019 at 1:33 pm | Posted in Luke, parables | 3 Comments
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When we pray, we can be specific. We can ask God for the Holy Spirit, and be confident that He will help us.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:13

There are times in the Bible when Jesus cast out demons, and it’s safe to say that casting out demons seems like it would always be a good thing… Well, apparently not to everyone, because when He did it in Luke Chapter 11 some people starting accusing Him of being on the same team as the demons.

But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of the devils.

Luke 11:15

Jesus used some pretty simple logic to show that this was a ridiculous and blasphemous accusation. First, why would the devil cast out devils? He’s in the oppression and possession business, not the exorcism business.

But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth. If Satan also be divided against himself, how shall his kingdom stand? because ye say that I cast out devils through Beelzebub.

Luke 11:17-18

Jesus, while He was refuting the accusations of the skeptics with logic, also cleverly revealed some things for us about the devil’s “kingdom,” which we may categorize according the vowels of the English alphabet (although a little bit out of their usual order): A,O,E,I,U.

It is A.ctual. The devil is real and he has real power and has been allowed some limited scope of authority in this earth since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden.

It is O.rganized. Satan has an actual kingdom and he is trying to accomplish actual goals and he’s acting in furtherance of those goals. He’s not just running around randomly trying to get people hooked on meth, or trying to get them to sacrifice a goat. He wants to kill, steal, and destroy. He wants to try to rob God of glory. He wants to deceive people into believing lies and rejecting Christ, thereby playing a role in seeing them cast into hell.

Jesus’s next logical point was to turn the tables on the ones accusing Him of being in league with the devil.

And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your sons cast them out? therefore shall they be your judges.

Luke 11:19

This was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. There were plenty of Jewish exorcists around at that time. If the power of Beelzebub was required to cast out devils, then they, by their own reasoning, were promoting and working with Satan themselves.

Jesus’s third argument was to highlight their implicit admission that He did in fact have power over devils.

But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.

Luke 11:20

It did not make sense for them to claim He was a fraudulent messiah and more powerful than Satan at the same time. So Jesus laid it out for them with an illustration sometimes called “the parable of the strong man.” (Keep in mind the context as you study it, because there is a ton of bad theology and craziness about what the parable means and who exactly the “strong man” in the story is meant to represent.)

When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:

Luke 11:21

Satan has many people under his thumb, and he’s not just giving them away without a fight.

But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.

Luke 11:22

Jesus is stronger than Satan and He can, and many times does, overcome him.

He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

Luke 11:23

There is a cosmic battle between good and evil. God is getting glory and Satan is trying to stop that – and you and I CAN NOT be neutral. We’re either on Jesus’s side or not, and if we’re not, we’re automatically on the devil’s side. There is a playing field, but there is no sideline and there are no bleachers for spectators.

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.

Luke 11:24-25

Here are two more of the vowels I mentioned earlier:

E.nergetic. Unclean spirits, despite not readily finding places to rest, continue walking about, looking, until they find a suitable place to stir up fresh mischief.

I.ntelligent. Despite his foolhardy and unwinnable attempt at winning a battle against an unbeatable foe, and despite our reluctance to say anything complimentary about him, we must admit that Satan is no dummy. When unclean spirits are driven out of a home, and can not find a new one, they come back to see if they can re-establish their headquarters in familiar territory. Those who are set free from Satan’s dominion must receive God’s Spirit if they are to remain free.

Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

Luke 11:26

U.nited. An evil spirit is able to do what (sadly) Christians are often unable to do. He is able to team up with seven other, and even more diabolical, spirits and work together to completely destroy someone’s life. Thankfully, Jesus (but only Jesus) provides the victory over Satan and his entire legion of demonic minions – if only we will trust Him completely.

 

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 | 4 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 John, Luke, The S.H.A.R.K. Principle | 9 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 bogey 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.

False Prophecy and Disappointment

January 6, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Posted in Micah | 6 Comments
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Micah was prophesying to a people with whom God had made a covenant. But He was letting them know that the fact of being in covenant with God does not excuse two sins in particular.

One was covetousness.

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.

Micah 2:1-3

The second was false prophecy.

Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?

Micah 2:6-7

Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

Micah 2:10-11

Prophets who are truly sent from God are seldom popular. One of the marks of a false prophet is that, in telling people they are good, he is loved by the people. Satan had been at work in the false prophets being addressed by Micah. In the Old Testament, we can often identify Satan trying to do two things: one, trying to contaminate or kill off the line of the Messiah before His birth; two, trying to kill the Jewish people in general. The sins of covetousness/greed and counterfeiting God’s words (false prophecy) are two of Satan’s favorites. Micah did not bring God’s judgment upon the people. He foretold it. He was the messenger, not the destroyer.

Micah 2:7 asks if the Spirit of the Lord is “straightened?” The people didn’t want to hear any true prophecies. They only wanted prophecies that were “happy,” but God’s Spirit is not straightened just because people don’t want to hear Him. God can reveal Himself through means other than prophets. Christians should be so excited about God’s Word that we can’t help but tell about others about it, even though we are not receiving new, immediate, private revelations from God. The Bible itself, and its sufficiency, reveals God to us. Creation, and even the scientific study of it, should reveal God to us. Our consciences, when they are sensitive to the Spirit, will reveal God at work in us.

For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.

Micah 1:12

If we are waiting for “good,” and then we perceive that “bad” comes to us instead, it is a recipe for disappointment. We must be careful, for disappointment can be a form of blaming God. The Bible says that “evil came down from the Lord,” because the people were looking for good somewhere else besides God. We should we look for good to come from the Lord, and, even better, we ought to just to look for the Lord Himself to come. Whether He brings good or evil from our perspective, it will really be good, because it will be His will.

Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)

July 5, 2012 at 10:05 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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David appeared to be at the top of his game. Having been blessed greatly by God, David was exhibiting several signs of being a good steward of these blessings. But if Satan had been watching David, taking notes and looking for an opportunity to trap him with just the right temptation, then he would most certainly have noticed a major weakness. David had a weakness for lust, and a desire to have more and more wives.

Before the incident with Bathsheba, David had as many as seven wives: Ahinoam; Haggith; Abital; Eglah; Maacha; Abigail; Chileab. This was common practice in those days, but it was still sin against God (Matthew 19:8; Deuteronomy 17:17). So, when the devil planned an attack on David, he must have said, “Aha, he has a weakness for beautiful women.” And the snare was set.

Here are some lessons we can learn about avoiding Satanic traps:

1. When we’re blessed in fighting, we need to remember to ask for God’s protection and preparation. Prayer and spiritual warfare go hand in hand.

Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:

Psalms 144:1

2. When we’re blessed with family, we need to watch out for those with whom they would associate. Your family members can be influenced by others outside of your family.

Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:

Psalms 144:11

3. When we’re blessed with faithful friends, we need to abide in God’s Word (not err from it).

The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.

Psalm 119:110

4. When we’re blessed with fear, we shouldn’t have a fear of aviation.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.

Psalms 124:7

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

I Corinthians 6:18

5. When we have the blessing of God’s favor, we need to remember to be alert.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

I Peter 5:8

6. If we’re blessed with fame, we need to be awake and active.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:11-14

Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Two)

June 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 6 Comments
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We noted King David’s many blessings in Part One. The Bible is not a book of fairy tales, myths, or legends. Its Author, the Holy Spirit, does not hide the sins, shortcomings, and ugly truths about its heroes. When David sinned with Bathsheba, there seems little doubt that his pride over his might, favor, and accomplishments played a part in his fall. However, when we go back and look carefully, we can see that this was perhaps not the chief cause of his downfall. David was actually being a good steward of these blessings God had given him.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

When David was blessed in fighting, he gave God the glory (as recorded in many of the Psalms), and was obedient to fight God’s enemies. When David was blessed in his family he didn’t just indulge his sons; he gave them responsibilities. When David was blessed with fame, God knew he could trust David to give God the glory. When David was blessed with faithful friends, he listened to them, and obeyed God’s Word. When David was blessed with feasting he didn’t become greedy or gluttonous; he became generous and giving.

So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the king’s table; and was lame on both his feet.

II Samuel 9:13

When David was blessed with fear he didn’t lord it over people; he sought ways to show kindness.

And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?

II Samuel 9:1

So, what else could have played a part in David’s lusting for Bathsheba and subsequent entrapment in sin? If you are a Christian, when you were saved, a great victory was achieved over Satan. Your salvation was a tough loss for Satan, and you may have been given a brief period of reprieve after that, but it didn’t take long for the Devil to get back up and come after you again. It might have been the next week, the next day, at school or at work. It might have been the next Sunday at church, or it might have been when you told your spouse or family or friends. It might even have been in the car on the way home from church! Pharaoh was forced to let God’s people out of Egypt, but he changed his mind and came after them before they even reached the Red Sea (Exodus 14). Jesus said, “Get thee behind Me, Satan” (Luke 4:8), but many of us are too nervous to have him back there where we can’t keep an eye on him. Thankfully, we don’t have to trust Satan. We have to trust the Lord Jesus.

David looked like he had on all his spiritual armor.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11

But there was a chink in David’s armor. The Devil is wily. He’s watching us closely. He’s looking for weakness. “Wiles” are tricky schemes, traps, snares, treachery by guile. That’s one reason why we must be very careful about placing a novice Christian in a position of leadership.

Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

I Timothy 3:7

We must also try to be kind and meek and mild, and not contentious.

And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

II Timothy 2:26

Satan does not stop attacking Christians, even when they are not serving the Lord. He does not make deals with believers. He does not really expect to get true Christians to bow down and worship him. We’re already saved. He can’t take us to hell. He wants us to think about ourselves. One of his main temptations is to tell you to do what feels good. Do what’s easy. Look out for number one. No rules, he says. Just “rights.” Then, once you’re worshiping yourself instead of worshiping God, he has a very limited agenda. He wants to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

David had a weakness – a chink in his armor – and that’s all it takes: one “occasion” (Galatians 5:13; I Timothy 5:14). An “occasion” is a foothold. It is what happens when you allow the enemy to build a little encampment inside your walls of protection. Next time, we will try to identify the “occasion” that Satan used to trap David.

Explaining the Meaning of Biblical “Authority” to Children

August 6, 2010 at 11:42 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Luke | 4 Comments
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Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Matthew 18:18

The people that Jesus was talking to when He said this were called “the Disciples.” The twelve men we commonly refer to as “the” Disciples were followers of Jesus before He was crucified:

1. Simon (who is called Peter)
2. His brother, Andrew
3. James, the son of Zebedee
4. His brother, John
5. Philip
6. Bartholomew
7. Thomas
8. Matthew, the tax collector
9. James, the son of Alphaeus
10. Thaddaeus
11. Simon the Zealot
12. Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus

In Matthew 18:18 “verily” means that Jesus is telling the Disciples to listen closely – He is about to say something that’s very important because it’s true.

Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

Luke 8:22-25

The Lord Jesus has given authority to His followers, but we do not pray to the wind and the rain. Authority is the right and the power to make things obey. God is the One Who created everything. There is nothing that God did not create. Everything that God created obeys Him except for you and me (and Satan and his demons at times). Let’s not be the one thing that God created that turns against Him and doesn’t do what He says.

Because I am a child of God, He has given me authority over some things. But if I use those things just for me, and not the way that God says to use them, these things (including many of my blessings) could be stolen from me. In fact, the devil would like to steal my blessings from me, and he probably could – unless Someone stronger than him stops him. One reason God gave me His Spirit when He saved me is so I could have Him with me all the time and keep the devil from stealing from me.

However – can I boss God around and tell Him what to do? If I say something, does it have to come true, just because I said it in Jesus’s Name? No. But, if I am doing what God tells me to do in the Bible, then I can pray to Him in Jesus’s Name to help me, and the Bible says He will hear my prayer and help me in the way that He knows is best.

In a way, that’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:32

Can you name some things that God has given you? What is the greatest thing He has given you? His Own Son. If He gave His Own Son for us, we can easily believe He will give us other things.


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