When we become Christians, the Lord fills our hearts with love; however, there are some things the Bible says we cannot afford to love.
1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
This passage is not referring to the planet or the people who inhabit it. The “world” in this context means, “a system or an order of things.” There is an ungodly system set against our Lord; although it may cozy up to us, the world is a friendly enemy. We must see its true character; this world has a prince, the devil, who is the mastermind behind this world system.
This world shares his philosophy, which consists of skillfully woven ideals and values that seem beautiful but are dangerous.
The purpose of the world system is to draw us away from God. Jesus is the ultimate exposure of sin and evil, so the world and its people will try to sway us out of our fellowship with Him.
But rather than conforming to the world, we must recognize its corruption.
“For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).The lust of the flesh deals with our passions; it is Satan’s appeal to our old nature. The lust of the eyes deals with our possessions. This temptation is a desire to want more than we need and to be dissatisfied with what we have.
The pride of life deals with position; the world tricks us into seeking recognition and making a name for ourselves.
The above temptations lose their appeal when we see the condemnation of the world. “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). Those who live for Jesus in this world know what life is truly about.
Adrian Rogers says, “I’d be a Christian if there were no Heaven or Hell, just to know the Lord Jesus Christ in this life.”
Apply it to your life
Are you friends with this world, or are you loyal to Jesus Christ? See your friendly enemy for what it is; recognize its corruption and remember its condemnation.
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Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14
Is there one thing that will disqualify anyone from making it to Heaven aside from committing blatant sin? The scripture says that nothing can separate one from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39). Is that true? Is it really impossible to be separated from God’s love?
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Romans 8:38
But, what about the things not mentioned? Is something missing in the list? The present is mentioned and so is the future. But, what about the past? The Apostle Paul does not include the past as something that cannot separate one from the love of God. That means the past can. Our past is more powerful than we might imagine. Let’s take look into this.
The Conscience & Dead Works
The past is a powerful thing. It can be a well of pleasant memories of our childhood with family and friends. It can bring back thoughts of places we have been and experiences we have encountered. On the other hand, the past can be a difficult place to navigate. In fact, the New Testament writings when referring to the past many times paints it with colors from a dark, foreboding palette: (Rom 11:30, Gal 1:13, 23; Eph 2:2-3, 11-12, Phm 1:11, I Pet 2:10). These actions of the past are referred to the Apostle Paul as “dead works” (Heb 6:1 & 9:14), acts we all have committed of which we are ashamed and not particularly proud.
Why is this? When reminiscing about the past why do we tend to concentrate on the negative and not the positive? It is as if an internal switch defaults in the down position. This is no doubt a result of the law of sin resident in our members (Rom 7:23-24). So, when dealing with the past we come out of the runner’s block in life already disadvantaged because of the law of sin that seeks to always overrule our spirit (Gal 3:3, 5:17) that includes sinful thoughts and past sinful actions.
It is reported by a pastor of a church that a young man in his congregation experienced deep personal difficulties and struggled with his faith in God. The man spent many hours in counseling with his pastor over these unresolved issues. It was a fruitless exercise. The man was never able to mature in faith and eventually drifted away. Why? The young man confessed that he was abused as a child and could not believe and come to a deep understanding of how God could truly love him. And understanding God’s love is what he needed to truly heal him. The past. The past can separate one from the love of God.
This is why the Spirit impressed upon the Apostle when writing the letter to the church in Rome to NOT include the past as a condition of separation between God and his love. When one truly commits their life to God and is born of water and Spirit (repentance, water baptism and infilling of the Spirit – “born again”) their past life is washed clean. God forgives and forgets the prior past-life and puts one on a course with a new life in Him, assuming no reason for one to revert back to it. Jesus makes all things new and starts afresh a life journey filled with His riches, gifting’s and blessings (Mat 13:44-46; Luk 12:32, 15:20-24; Joh 17:20-23; Rom 11:33; I Cor 12:8-11; Eph 1:7-12,18-23, 2:7 & Col 2:2-3).
The Past & Who Is In Control?
The past is also peculiar and somewhat enigmatic. The past on one hand can control us, yet on the other, it can be something else. What? The past can be something that only we manipulate that no one else can. Not even God if we so choose. We can be its arbitrator, judge or liberator. We cannot always control our present and less so our future. However, we can control our past by awakening it and repressing it at will. We can “bring up” the past on one hand and forget about it on the other – at will. Our will. That is control fueled by self-centered power. We can take ownership of the past because in doing so we can willfully control it. It is a piece of us that hinders and stymies the work and will of God in our lives because by manipulating our past we are in control and not God. And that is a big problem. A problem big enough that Jesus gave a warning:
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. Luke 9:62
Looking back (to the past) disqualifies one for kingdom work. It is a disqualifier and debilitating. Is this a hopeless situation? No, not with God. Because Jesus offers us new life, a new future and new beginnings. The key is to relinquish the past and move forward, by faith and trust in the Lord and in His word. Jesus came to heal us of our past – past mistakes we have committed (and we have all done them), past failures (even those), things done in the past to us, unpleasant thoughts from the past, all of these things Jesus can and is willing to give us victory over. Yes, he certainly can. And then we have the enemy to contend with in all this which brings us to the next subject.
The Past & Oz Behind The Curtain
The enemy knows how powerful your past is. He understands that if he can interject or resurrect past unpleasant thoughts into your mind (yes, the devil has the capacity to do that – 2 Cor 10:5) he can at worst control you or at best stymie your spiritual growth and development.
Before we go any further, it may be in order to get a better understanding of this adversary we are dealing with. Demonic spirits are past-bound spirits with no hope and no future. Demonic spirits were in the past a part of God’s angelic heavenly host. They partook of the wonders and splendors of Heavenly glory (Jude 1:6). No more. They rebelled, were kicked out of heaven and driven to earth as fallen creatures (Rev 12:7-9). Their only hope, their only means of even the slightest relief before their final destination of eternal torment in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) is to latch onto another God-given spirit that does have hope and a future. And that God-given spirit lives in you. The devil and his cohorts find relief by accusing, oppressing and possessing humans who have a spirit with hope. What is their diet? Dust (Gen 3:14). What are you made of (Gen 2:7)? This explains the conflict.
Someone may ask the question: “Well, what about the pigs (swine)?” Okay, lets diverge here and talk about the pigs.
So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. Matthew 8:31
God created swine (pigs) for a purpose and for a reason. They are farm animals and make good pulled pork and bacon. And even a pig retains its original God-given purpose. Fallen angels did not. They are dead spirits. Devils even seek to find relief possessing a farm animal living under God’s provision and favor. Okay, let’s move along.
The enemy completely understands he cannot control a person with a “made up” mind, a mind focused on God, His Word, totally surrendered to God’s will and unequivocally trusting in God’s person. The devil has lost the battle with that individual who lives no longer in the past and lives instead in the promises and hope of His Person and Word. A believer set free from the shadows and vestiges of the past is unstoppable when infused with faith, hope and love. This is not the case for those bound by the past, those whose lives are directed by its sinful reminders whether true or untrue. This is a place where the Creator of the heaven and the earth does not want you to be for he came to heal and set you free of your past:
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; Isaiah 61:1
The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. Matthew 4:16
When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Mark 2:17
Left untempered and unrestrained, our past may be our biggest enemy. By God’s grace and His promise of new life, the past can be a distant memory God has healed and made whole. But, someone may ask, “You don’t know my past? You do not know what I have experienced in life, the things I have done or the things done to me”. No this blogger does not. But, there is someone who does. Jesus experienced more shame and pain than any other human that ever walked this earth. And Jesus can be touched by your pain and shame because he has been there (Heb 4:15). Someone made the following statement: “Get yourself a good prayer life because no one understands your pain better than God”.
The enemy wants your hope. The enemy wants your future because he has none. It is said that the devil does not care about your past or your present, he just wants to steal your future. Don’t let him. Jesus has something more powerful for you than what a future-less, hateful and destructive end the enemy hopes for your life. What is it? It is the New Birth of water and Spirit (Joh 3:1-15 & 7:37-39). A new life, a new beginning and a entirely new bright future eons away from your regretful past.
Secure your future and destiny. The past can be over and done. Jesus is the only way to life beyond the grave. If you are reading this let it be known He loves you too much to let you go before telling you YOU are of worth to Him. Your soul is of great value. How do we know? Jesus Christ laid down his life on a cross to take your sins away. Even the ones from the past – Forgiven Forever. Call on him in heartfelt repentance, forgive, ask for forgiveness and he will begin a work of healing in your life and in your heart. May Jesus be your new beginning and leave the past behind. May God Bless You!
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; Song of Solomon 2:11-12
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
In some ways, this post is just a Bible review. As I think about ways the enemy seeks to infiltrate a church, I find many of those ways in Paul’s correspondence to the Corinthians. While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are some ways we should recognize:
Rivalry in the church (1 Cor 1:10-17). When groups compete against each other, and ministries fight for their turf, the enemy is winning.
Immaturity among believers (1 Cor 3:1-4). When leaders are still essentially baby believers, the door is open for Satan’s forces.
Tolerating sin in the congregation (1 Cor 5:1-13). The Corinthians not only knew about open sin in the church, but they also boasted about it. Even if we don’t go that far, ignoring sin is evidence of Satan’s influence.
Believers turning on believers (1 Cor 6:1-8). The Corinthians apparently regularly filed grievances against one another rather than try to work them out in Christian love. Internal strife marked their congregation.
Sexual immorality in the church (1 Cor 5:1-13). There’s a reason Paul so often spoke against sexual sin (e.g., 1 Cor 6:12-20, 1 Cor 10:8) and called believing couples to give themselves to each other physically lest Satan tempt them (1 Cor 7:5). This temptation is real and powerful.
Misuse of Christian liberty (1 Cor 8:1-13, 10:23-30). This issue is often the result of our living in our freedom without regard for others—and the enemy finds working room when we’re self-centered.
Idolatry in the church (1 Cor 10:7, 14). The demons delight when we elevate someone, something, or some action above the true God. Sometimes, our idols aren’t figurines on a shelf, but gods in our heart.
Competition over spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12-14). When we think we’re more gifted than others, or that our gifts are more significant than others, we’re playing into the devil’s hand.
Unwillingness to forgive a repentant believer (2 Cor 2:5-11). When we don’t forgive a returning brother or sister in Christ, we open the door to the enemy’s influence.
False teaching in the church (2 Cor 11:1-15). From debates about the Lord’s Supper to questions of the resurrection to preaching about “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4), the enemy seeks to sow falsehood in the church—often through teachers who seem to be angels of light.
Which of these strategies is most evident in your church? What steps are you taking to counter the enemy’s work? What steps are you taking to prepare for his attack?