Does ‘Resist the Devil, and He Will Flee’ Still Apply Today?

Aaron Berry
Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer

Does ‘Resist the Devil, and He Will Flee’ Still Apply Today?

The Christian life is a battle. Spiritual warfare is real; angels are real; Satan is real. As the sworn enemy of our Savior, Satan’s greatest desire is to turn people away from Christ through his lies and deceit. For a Christian to function as if this is not a reality is a recipe for spiritual disaster.

Although the Devil cannot snatch believers away from Christ (1 John 5:18), he is still hard at work to cause division among believers, render them ineffective in their testimony, and damage their relationship with God. Because of this reality, Christians are called to “resist the Devil.” We are to stand firm and oppose the adversary of God’s people.

What Bible Verse Encourages Us to ‘Resist the Devil, and He Will Flee’?

The command to resist the Devil is found in James 4:7, ”Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” To fully understand this command, it needs to be considered within the larger context of James 4.

In this section (James 4:1-12), James appears to be confronting some problems his readers are experiencing in the church. He references divisions and quarrels among them, stating that the true source of those quarrels was the sinful desires and passions raging within them (James 4:1).

Then he gives them a startling rebuke: “You adulterous people” (James 4:4). These lust-driven quarrels were a type of spiritual adultery as the people were choosing friendship with the world over friendship with God (James 4:4).

They were “cheating” on the One who had redeemed and rescued them from their sin.

What Is the Context of James 4:7?

This is the context in which James commands them to “resist the devil.” Although it was ultimately their own sin that was the problem, Satan was capitalizing on the people’s spiritual adultery to promote division–between Christians and between God and his people.

This is how Satan works. The devil is not responsible for our own sinful choices, but if we “give place to the devil” (Eph 4:27) by following our own passions, then we shouldn’t be surprised when we see him wreak havoc in our churches.

Thankfully, James provides a solution to this struggling church, and resisting the devil is a step in the journey from sin back to our loving Father. If we are to know what resisting the devil looks like, we need to consider the commands immediately before and after James 4:7.

After James’s pointed rebuke, he lovingly reminds them that grace is available to those who humble themselves (James 4:6). Therefore, right before he tells them to “resist the devil,” he tells them to “submit yourselves therefore to God.”

These commands are two sides of the same coin.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

Submitting to God and Resisting the Devil Go Hand in Hand

As one commentator puts it, “Submission to God is itself an act of resistance to the devil…As people align their lives with God, the result becomes a growing resistance to the temptations of the devil and he loses any foothold and must flee.” [1]

To think that we can resist Satan without humbly submitting our lives to God is the height of arrogance.

Submitting to God means elevating his Word above our own desires,   yielding ourselves to God’s revealed will in the Scriptures, and desperately calling to him in prayer to ask for “grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

There is no better illustration of what this looks like than the example of Jesus himself. At the beginning of his earthly ministry, he had to resist the devil in the wilderness (Matt. 4Luke 4). Even though Jesus was God in flesh, he resisted Satan by submitting to the will of the Father and quoting Scripture.

For us to think that we can resist the devil any other way is foolish!

After his command to resist the devil, James commands his readers to “draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” This command is also indivisibly connected to the command to resist the devil. It shows that the ultimate goal is a restored relationship with God.

We resist Satan, not to make our lives easier, but to restore our walk with Jesus. Just as submission to God is an act of resistance to the devil, so is a zealous pursuit of God. Satan cannot dwell in the presence of God. So the one who desperately runs the throne of grace can rest assured that the devil cannot follow him there.

How Does ‘Resistance’ Cause the Devil to Flee?

James includes a comforting assurance to this important command: If we resist the devil, he will flee from us. He cannot overpower a child of God who is humbly submitting to and actively pursuing Jesus. Jesus died on the cross so that he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Heb 2:14-15). We have the ability to resist the devil only because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross of Calvary.

There are a couple of other Scripture passages in which we learn of our ability to resist the devil. In 1 Peter 5:8, Satan is described as a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” In 1 Peter 5:9, we are commanded to “resist him, firm in your faith.” It’s interesting to note that, just like James, Peter states that humble submission to God is a necessary prerequisite for resisting the devil (1 Peter 5:6).

Another well-known passage is Ephesians 6:10-20, where we read of the Armor of God. We are to put on this armor so that we “may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Just as in every other passage that we have considered, the ability to resist the devil is not found in ourselves, but is only found in Christ. It is his strength (Ephesians 6:10) and his armor (Ephesians 6:11) that guards us against the devil’s fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16).

The source of our strength should not cause us to stand up and arrogantly rebuke the devil (not even Michael the archangel did that—see Jude 1:9), but to bow our heads in humble gratitude in thanks to our gracious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Wang Xi

What Can Christians Do To Resist the Devil?

It’s important for believers to remember that our ability to resist the devil should not be viewed in isolation. There are things that must happen in our hearts before, during, and after we resist. Here are some practical ways that we can resist the devil:

Take stock of your own sinful desires. Do you have deeply-held desires and cravings that produce relational tension and conflict when they aren’t fulfilled? Realize that the devil has you right where he wants you. Repent of those sinful desires and ask God for the grace to love him more than yourself. 

Compare God’s Word to your own lifestyle. Satan is the Father of lies. So often we fall prey to those lies without knowing it (“God just wants me to be happy,” “I deserve better than this,” “Money will solve all my problems,” “I can handle this on my own”). We need a regular dose of God’s Truth in our lives so that we can clearly discern truth from error. Pick up your Bible and see if you’re living it or ignoring it.

Don’t be casual in your Christianity. If Satan is a master deceiver, then his tactics won’t always be obvious and his attacks won’t always be overt. Don’t think that you can cruise through life, picking and choosing when to follow God, and think that you can escape Satan’s attacks. Put on the Armor of God before Satan’s attacks; don’t wait until you’re in the thick of battle.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jon Tyson

A Prayer of Encouragement to Resist the Devil So He Will Flee:

Lord Jesus, I thank you that you have already won the victory. Because of your death on the Cross, Satan’s fate has been sealed. Thank you for equipping and enabling me to resist the devil’s attacks. Thank you for your Word that can expose my own sinful desires and refute the lies of the Devil. Help me to stand firm, rooted in the faith, shielded by your armor, and dependent on your grace. Help me to resist the devil today. In the name of the one who crushed the head of the serpent, Amen. 

Take courage Christian! You can resist the devil because Christ already won the victory. Don’t allow your own sin to give Satan a foothold in your life. Stay humbly submitted to God and actively pursue him every day.

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/does-resist-the-devil-and-he-will-flee-still-apply-today.html


Sin’s Corruption of Our Character

Sin’s Corruption of Our Character

by John MacArthur Friday, August 7, 2020

The problem of sin isn’t fundamentally external. It’s most visible in our actions, but our actions are merely the manifestation of a corruption that comes from within.

If we were using a medical metaphor, we might say Romans 3:10–12 includes a full examination of the sinner, beginning with a kind of spiritual MRI scan. This passage reveals how corruption pervades the inner being—the very heart and soul of man. In the words of Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9, NKJV).

Paul says the same thing, using a series of Old Testament references that make negative statements describing the debauched character of all people in their natural fallen state. Here, Paul very bluntly spells out just how thoroughly corrupt we are because of our sin.

In Romans 3:10, he says, “There is none righteous, not even one.” That is a paraphrase and summary of the first three verses of Psalms 14 and 53.

The first three verses of both psalms contain several phrases that Paul will quote in Romans 3. Verse 1 of Psalm 14 says, “They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 53:1 says, “They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; there is no one who does good.” Romans 3:10 is a shortened paraphrase of those two nearly identical verses, with these words added to the end: “Not even one.” (That final phrase is borrowed from verse 3 in both psalms.)

Paul’s choice of words in this paraphrase is deliberate. Righteousness is the central theme of Paul’s entire epistle to the Romans. That word and its cognates appear at least thirty times within the letter. That’s because the gospel is a message about how sinners can be made righteous—right with God. At the very outset, therefore, Paul makes it clear that no one is righteous. And to make sure we don’t miss the point or look for an escape hatch, he appends those words from the end of Psalms 14:3 and 53:3: “Not even one” (emphasis added).

By the way, the Greek word translated “righteous” (here and elsewhere in the New Testament) is the same root word translated “justified” just a few verses later, in Romans 3:20: “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (emphasis added). No one is righteous, and no one can become righteous through his own efforts—no matter how hard one applies oneself under the law of God.

Paul will restate this point as distinctly as possible in Romans 8:7–8: “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” In fact, the only standard acceptable to God is absolute perfection. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). He went on to teach that anger is of the same nature as murder (Matthew 5:21–22), and lust is the same flavor of sin as adultery (Matthew 5:27–28). Then Jesus set the standard as high as possible: “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). That is an echo of Leviticus 11:44, where God tells the Israelites, “Be holy, for I am holy.” That command is repeated more than a dozen times throughout Scripture.

If we don’t sense our lost condition when we read what Scripture has to say about sin, we certainly ought to feel it when we understand the nature of the holiness God demands of us. No mere mortal has ever attained that standard, nor do we have the potential even to come close.

Romans 3:11 continues this indictment of our character, now homing in on the sinfulness of the human intellect. Paul is following the order of Psalms 14 and 53. Verse 2 in both psalms say that God looks “down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.” Paul notes the psalmist’s reference to understanding and states the conclusion plainly implied by the two psalms: “There is none who understands” (emphasis added).

This is the reality of sin. It has a blinding effect even on the human intellect. Fallen humanity has no true perception of divine reality. Sinners have no right apprehension of God—therefore they cannot even have a true perception of what righteousness looks like. Paul says the same thing in different words in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”

This is a harsh indictment, but it is absolutely true. The entire human race is fallen and fleshly. In our natural state we lack righteousness, we lack even a proper understanding of righteousness, and we hate what we don’t understand. Every one of us has been “foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Elsewhere, Paul says fallen people go through life

in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17–19).

It’s hard to see how the state of fallen humanity could be any worse.

But the reality is worse: “There is none who seeks for God” (Romans 3:11, still echoing verse 2 of Psalms 14 and 53). No sinner naturally wants to know God. There simply is no such thing as a self-motivated seeker after God. “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts” (Psalm 10:4, NKJV, emphasis added).

This is a point that people sometimes want to dispute. After all, there are many familiar verses in Scripture that invite sinners to seek God, promising that those who do seek will find. “Seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). “Let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad” (1 Chronicles 16:10). “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6). “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). “He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). There are literally more than a hundred verses in Scripture like those, urging sinners to seek God and promising blessing to those who do.

In recent years, many churches have based their entire ministry philosophy on the assumption that lots of unbelieving people are seeking God. These churches have refurbished their music, teaching, and public worship with the stated goal of being “seeker-sensitive.” In order to achieve that goal, church leaders rely on opinion surveys and an almost obsessive fixation with cultural trends in order to gauge the tastes and expectations of unbelievers. Then every feature of their corporate gatherings is carefully reworked, dumbed down, or purposely de-sanctified in order to make unbelievers feel comfortable.

But people are not really seeking God if they are looking for a religious experience where the music, entertainment, and sermon topics are carefully vetted in order to appeal to popular preferences. That kind of “seeker” is just looking for a cloak of piety in a context where he or she will also get affirmation, self-gratification, and companionship with like-minded people.

But the gospel that Paul preached pointed in the opposite direction. Paul fully understood the felt needs and cultural expectations of his diverse audiences: “Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). But the apostle’s response was the polar opposite of “seeker-sensitivity”: “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). The Greeks who craved a philosophical discourse on wisdom heard a message Paul knew would sound to them like foolishness; and the Jews who demanded a sign instead got “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Romans 9:33). But both groups heard exactly the same message from Paul. He knew only one gospel, and never considered pragmatic alternatives: “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul knew that our corruption from sin is so deep seated and wide reaching that no solution can be found outside of our Creator, Savior, and Redeemer.

And as we’ll see next time, fallen sinners don’t seek God—they actually flee from Him.

(Adapted from The Gospel According to Paul)

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200807

People Series: Joseph, The Son Of Jacob

raising zion

 

July 1, 2020 Nehemiah Zion

There is much we can learn from the life of Joseph. I want to share only two qualities of Joseph that is necessary for every young Christian today.

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9)

In the house of Potiphar, his Master, Joseph had gained much favour and given much responsibility. Once when his Master was away, he was made the Master of the House. He had power over everyone, except the wife of Potiphar (Of course). The wife of Potiphar turned out to be an evil woman; she wanted to sleep with Joseph. Joseph was a young and hardworking man. She tried to lure him with words, and when that did not work out she tried to take advantage of him physically. Joseph was quick enough to run away, sadly, he was stripped naked by Potiphar’s wife as he held his garment tightly.

Joseph was confronted with a situation which could damage his reputation and his future completely.

Preserve Your Body, The Temple of God

The Word of God says, flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). Joseph knew the danger of his situation and ran away from it. He was mentally and emotionally alert to flee. He did not get drawn into the temptation of lying with her. He knew very well that trying to please his Master’s wife would be a wickedness and sin against God.

How many Christians actually understand the need to keep their body pure? The Word of God in 1 Corinthians 7:1 clearly states, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. So many young lives have been broken because of disobeying the word of God regarding this matter. Many live in guilt and shame; crippling their walk with God. Many youth are unable to repent and receive their forgiveness and rebuild their life again. The body is the temple of God. We need to keep ourselves holy; Joseph proved an excellent example of purity and holiness.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Depend On God Alone

Even though Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife; he willingly went to jail as ordered by his Master. He did not create a ruckus or try to prove his innocence. He was helpless and in a hopeless situation. Yet, he did not lose hope in God. He did not let the situation or the people who went against him wrongfully distract him from His love for God. He knew his identity in God, and waited patiently for God to work for him.

God’s favour was evident in Joseph’s life. Not all did God bless Joseph’s work, he became the most trusted man in all of Egypt. When we wait upon God, he sees us through miraculously, and mightily. Let’s not be distracted by the wealth and status he gained; and stay focused on what we in the New Testament ministry should stay focused on i.e. the riches of His glory in eternity.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Joseph’s life is filled with action. Action against him. What shines through is Joseph’s active duty to God in every area of his life. No matter what the trial was, he trusted God. He believed in doing the will of God, humbling himself, only to be richly blessed by God.

Hope this Word of God enriched your life. Pray for the children and youth of this generation as they battle through an unprecedented time of sin and deception. May the Lord prepare us for His soon coming!

People Series: Joseph, The Son Of Jacob

VIDEO Did Dinosaurs Live with Man?

By Eric Hovind

According to evolutionary scientists, dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. What if science actually proves that dinosaurs lived with man? Brian Thomas, dinosaur expert from icr.org, answers this question with the latest scientific discoveries. Join Marianne Pike and Eric Hovind to see if this evolutionary claim should go extinct!

The Kent Hovind Creation Seminar (3 of 7): Dinosaurs and the Bible


Did Dinosaurs Live with Man? Season 4 Episode 7

‘Never Give Up Your Faith in Jesus’, Indian Christian Man Tells Wife Before Mob Murders Him

Steve Warren

KandeMudu
Kande Mudu. (Image credit: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

The persecution of Christians in India is on the rise with a report of one believer being murdered for his faith by Hindu radicals in his own village.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Kande Mudu, 27, was attacked and murdered by a group of armed men in the Khunti district of India’s Jharkhand state on June 7. He had converted to Christianity four years ago.

Mudu’s family were the only Christians living in their village. They had faced threats to their lives and had survived one violent attack on their home two years ago.

Mudu was killed when the mob showed up at his house, broke down the front door, and attacked him with weapons. During the brutal attack, his throat was cut.

Bindu Mudu, Mudu’s wife, told CSW, “After hearing the men at the front door, my husband knew that our lives were in danger and that the men had bad intentions.”

Mudu then reportedly told his wife, “He might be killed but assured her to remain strong and never to give up her faith in Jesus even if they killed him.”

Bindu Mudu and the couple’s two daughters fled the village after her husband’s murder since none of their neighbors would give them shelter.

The police investigation into Mudu’s murder is ongoing. No suspects have been arrested in his killing.

“Our deepest prayers and condolences go out to Mr. Mudu’s wife, Bindu, and his family for the loss of a husband, father, and son. Mr. Mudu was murdered on account of his faith. We at CSW are increasingly concerned by the relentless harassment, discrimination, and suffering that Christians in India face, simply for exercising their right to practice a religion that is different from the majority of their fellow citizens. India’s constitution clearly states that ‘all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion,'” said CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas.

“The culture of hatred towards religious minorities and the impunity which surrounds attacks against them is rampantly spreading across India. This must be addressed urgently and we urge the authorities in Jharkhand and the central government to develop a plan of action. Christians and other religious minorities must feel safe and be able to live in their homes and have livelihoods as equal citizens without fear of violence or harassment from any segment of the community,” Thomas concluded.

Ninth Indian State to Pass Law Allowing Radical Hindu Groups to Attack and Intimidate Christians

Meanwhile, India’s Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the state government of Haryana would implement a bill against religious conversion by force, marriages, or through inducement for the specific purpose of adopting a religion.

International Christian Concern (ICC) reports Haryana will become the 9th Indian state to pass this law in the legislative assembly, empowering Hindu radicals to attack and intimidate Christians in the region.

Eight state governments have not defined the terms “inducement,” “coercion,” “force,” or “fraud” in the context of religious conversions. Due to this legal ambiguity, these laws have been widely abused and empowers radical Hindu nationalist groups to attack and intimidate Christian minorities claiming to be acting under the state law.

The chief minister said that various steps were being taken by the government to maintain the brotherhood and social harmony among communities. However, this bill will divide the people of Haryana who lived in unity for ages, according to the ICC.

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/june/he-took-care-of-me-i-took-care-of-him-retired-navy-seal-writes-book-honoring-his-service-dog

Do We Need Extrabiblical Texts to Understand the Bible?

Interview with John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

Today we have a very specific question, but one that I think draws attention to much larger questions we all face with Bible interpretation. The specific question on the table is this: Why does the author of Hebrews belabor Christ’s supremacy over angels? It comes in from a young man. “Pastor John, hello! Why do you think the writer of Hebrews spends so much time declaring that Jesus is greater than the angels? This is especially the case in the first two chapters. You would think that identifying Jesus as God and expounding upon the Trinity would be a better way of declaring the truth of Jesus’s greatness, so that the writer of Hebrews wouldn’t need to compare Jesus to angels. The emphasis on angels is for a reason; I just cannot figure out why.” Pastor John, what would you say?

I’m not sure, but it may be that the assumption of this question is that there is some key to answering the question from outside the book of Hebrews in the first-century milieu. I’m not sure, but that’s often the case, so let me just say a word about that assumption. I want to say something about the role of information from the first century coming from outside the Bible and used to interpret the Bible.

Gold Mine Under Your Nose

What I want to say is this: in, I dare say, 99 percent of the cases where something from outside the Bible might inform the meaning of what’s in the Bible, it’s the precise details and context of the biblical text itself that finally determine whether information from outside the Bible is decisive or not. That’s very crucial.

“The gold mine is under your nose, and it’s in English.”

Usually, what we read from first-century documents applies very generally, rather than with any precise specificity, to our particular New Testament author or our particular document or our particular text and context. When it comes down to deciding on the meaning of the text, it’s almost always the case that the words and phrases and flow of thought in this book, combined with what the author has said elsewhere, decide the meaning.

And I say that so that the average reader of the Bible doesn’t operate on the assumption that there’s this gold mine of discovery just waiting to be had about the meaning of this text outside the Bible. “If I just had hours and hours and knew some languages! Oh, I could mine this gold mine of insight for the text from outside the Bible.” No. The gold mine is under your nose, and it’s in English. It’s in English! And if for every hour you spend poking around in first-century documents outside the Bible, you spend one hundred hours ransacking the details of the author’s words — the New Testament author’s words and phrases and sentences and logical connections and flow of thought and wider views in his writings — you will find vast riches of gold you would never find if you switched and spent an hour with the Bible and one hundred hours outside.

Unlock the Riches of Scripture

Some scholars will go on debating until doomsday how much angel worship there was in the first century as a possible background to Hebrews, and what form it took, and how much the apostles may have encountered it. But we know that already from Colossians 2:18: “Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels.” And from John’s temptation in Revelation 22:8–9: “I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! . . . Worship God.’”

But is that the background for the book of Hebrews? Do we know for sure that the churches this book was sent to were dealing with that temptation? No, we don’t know that. It would be sheer guesswork to draw, from the general fact that there was such a thing as angel worship in the first century, the specific conclusion that that’s the reason there’s such focus on putting Jesus above angels in the book of Hebrews.

Now, here’s where it gets really practical: a preacher who stands up and makes a big deal out of first-century angel worship as the background of Hebrews is like a miner carrying scraps of gold shavings into the gold mine of Hebrews, where the walls are bright with veins of pure gold, waiting to be dug out.

Jesus and the Angels

So, let me mention several veins of gold for our friend who asked this question — veins that he can dig into when we’re done.

1. Jesus is not merely the angel in chief.

First, he suggests that it might be better for the writer to focus on the deity of Christ than to focus on his superiority to angels. Hmm. Well, evidently not, because that’s not what he did. And I think the author of Hebrews would respond by saying, “I’m not talking about angels as an alternative to talking about the deity of Christ; I’m talking about angels as a means of talking about the deity of Christ. One way to teach the deity of Christ in my situation is to disabuse people of any notion at all that he’s a top angel.”

So, he says in Hebrews 1:6, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Whoa, I love that sentence. That sentence is not an alternative to talking about the deity of Christ; it’s a thunderclap showing the deity of Christ. Let every angelic being in heaven and hell fall on their faces and worship Jesus, very God of very God. You don’t dare worship what is not God.

2. Jesus, not angels, brings the gospel.

The author takes an Old Testament idea, which might lead some people to elevate angels more highly than they should, and he turns it around so that it has the exact opposite effect. He refers in Hebrews 2:2 to the Mosaic law coming to us through angels. And then he says that since the law through angels came with such authority and consequence, how much more the message declared to us by the Lord (Hebrews 2:1–4)? In other words, if you’re impressed with the role of angels in giving the law, be a thousand times more impressed with the role of Jesus in giving the gospel.

3. Angels serve for our salvation.

“Who knows what cultures are waiting for this message about angels that may blow things wide open for the gospel?”

In exalting Jesus above angels, he helps us know the proper place not just of Jesus, but of angels — angels themselves — and the proper place of ourselves. In other words, more is going on here than just the superiority of Jesus over angels. So, for example, in Hebrews 1:14, when you demote angels from competing with the Son of God for glory, then they can have their true glory, which is — amazingly — to be our servants. Amazing. He says, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”

So, these competitors with the Son of God for glory turn out to be our servants. Oh my goodness. More is going on than we think. The author has multiple reasons for talking about angels.

4. The Bible speaks across cultures.

Final observation (and I’m leaving out some really juicy ones, by the way): keep in mind that sometimes the Bible says things that seem very foreign to our experience, and we wonder why such an emphasis might be there. For example, not many people in the West today are wrestling with whether Jesus’s relationship to angels is this or that. But don’t assume that will be the case when the Bible is translated and read in hundreds of other cultures where this particular emphasis might be exactly what the Holy Spirit will use to awaken an entire people group to the reality of Christ’s greatness.

And the reason I point to that is because I remember the story of how useless one missionary thought the genealogies were in the beginning of Matthew, and then he read them to a Stone Age tribe, and they were all ears; they were riveted. And in the end, they said, “Well then, he’s not just a spirit!” And it was the genealogies that broke the back of unbelief and a thousand years of darkness. Who knows what cultures are waiting for this message about angels in Hebrews that may blow things wide open for the gospel?

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/do-we-need-extrabiblical-texts-to-understand-the-bible

What have you been drinking?

raisingzion

June 19, 2020 Nehemiah Zion

As a child (5 or 6) I would watch my parents drink black tea every morning. It looked so cool and a mature thing to do. So, one fine day I decided I am eligible to drink as well, and asked my fair share of black tea as an esteemed member of the family.

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Mom initially refused. But, I was too stubborn. Got my way, joined the black tea family mornings. I had overcome mom’s ruling. I had won.

After a few years, I moved to milk tea. I don’t know how or why. But, it happened, and to this day unsure how the shift was made.

The only person who had such success to manipulate me was my Mom.

At 21, I left home to pursue higher studies. I would visit home every year. After around 5-6 years of being away, I was somehow reminded of the black tea I used to have as a child. I was looking forward to the next visit.

While at home with parents during my next visit, I asked Mom to prepare black tea for me. She gladly went in and brought me a cup. I took a sip and immediately spat it out. It was too bitter for me. I asked her why it tasted so bitter and awful. She said we’ve always had this, nothings changed. Then she suddenly took my cup and asked me to wait as if she had some sort of flashback. She goes into the kitchen and brings me another cup. This I enjoyed.

Mothers Day Mom GIF by ABC Network - Find & Share on GIPHY

I asked her what was the secret. She said, she would mix water in it as a child so it was fine for me to drink. But, now that I had grown up, she gave me the original black tea.

It gave me a beautiful revelation. I learned how so many Christians today have been served a watered down gospel. They have become conditioned to “nice” teachings and live a religious lifestyle. When they are given the truth they aren’t able to bear it. Just like how I was served the original black tea I disliked. I had become conditioned to a watered down black tea.

What are you drinking? Please do not compromise the word of God. This life is all about Jesus, not us. Only a little while and those who truly walk in Him will be with Him forever.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” 1 Timothy 4:1-2

What have you been drinking?

Unfailing

AUGUST 24, 2020 BEN J BENSING

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“But I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered”. Psalm 89:33-34 (NIV)

“But I will never stop loving him nor fail to keep my promise to him. No, I will not break my covenant; I will not take back a single word I said”. Psalm 89:33-34 (NLT)

God’s unfailing love is so pervasive that it covers all facets of our lives. He is involved in every minute detail and every hopes and aspirations of man.

When we journey through the storm

When our boats are being tossed in the turbulent seas, where the raging waves and the furious winds are blowing and our faith is losing ground, most of us would pray for God to stop the storm or remove the storm. That’s our instinct telling us. And rightly so. I would pray that myself. With no shame. That’s what I want. But wait a second, is that what God wants? What if God wants me to ask Him to give me the strength to weather the storm in order to strengthen my faith? I want Him to make the storm stop when He wants me to make my anchor drop – and trust Him. Often, a misalignment of direction, or a failure in understanding the strategic purpose of situational adversity, is a main source of our misery.

Most of the time, we thought God is far away and silent to our plea when in fact He is with us all those times we thought He is not and trying to protect us and guide our path. I’ll admit its hard to obey when trust levels are nearly empty.

Our faith may fail us, but God never fails. His love is unfailing. He said, “my grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness”. (2Cor. 12:9a)

When relationships fail

Have you ever been betrayed by a loved one? By a partner? By a friend? If you do, then you are not alone. Sometimes it’s shocking to hear a story that a couple who had been married for fifteen, twenty years, suddenly splits due to the husband’s philandering, or because the wife had a casual affair at the office.

The scandalous revelation of a betrayal is enough to damage the foundation or severe the relationship. Either case, divorce and separation are the only options left which can leave deep emotional scars to the offended party and to the children.

And yet the Psalmist says that God’s love is unfailing. No matter what happens, we have the confidence that God will never fail us. The Scriptures tells us that, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2). In every situation, God will carry us through – that’s His promise.

God has a reason for allowing us to experience what we experience. Every trial has a goal. Every pain has a purpose. Even if we cannot understand why.

https://benjiebensing.wordpress.com/2020/08/24/unfailing/

The Arraignment of Mankind

The Arraignment of Mankind

by John MacArthur Monday, August 3, 2020

A legal arraignment is where the accused is brought to court to answer formal charges. And that is what the apostle Paul did with all of humanity—all of us—in the third chapter of his epistle to the Romans. At this trial, the whole human race is brought before the eternal Judge. The charge against us is uttered in Romans 3:9: “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin.”

“What then?” simply means, “What is the case? How are we to understand the situation?” What follows is the answer to that question, stated in God’s own words.

Bear in mind the structure of the preceding context. In Romans 2:12 Paul states his point succinctly: “All who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law.” That is all-inclusive. It encompasses each one of us—Jew and Gentile, male and female, bond and free.

Then Paul goes on to lay out the charge in meticulous detail. In Romans 2:14–16, he charges the Gentiles with sin, even though they were not directly given God’s written law. In verses 17–29, he charges the Jews with sin as “transgressor[s] of the Law” (Romans 2:27). In Romans 3:1–8, he defends the righteousness of God as Judge. Then in verse 9, just before launching into that long string of Old Testament references (Romans 3:10–18), he sums up what he has just said and reiterates the main point so no reader can possibly miss it: “We have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin.” The whole world is “guilty before God” (Romans 3:19, NKJV).

That is Paul’s formal arraignment. The charge is universal guilt. No human being escapes that charge. He makes the universality of sin as plain and categorical as possible, refusing to exclude even himself: “Are we better than they?” (Romans 3:9). “We” is a clear reference to Paul and his missionary companions—and by implication, it includes all Christians. The same pronoun (“we”) is used in verse 8 (“we are slanderously reported”; “some claim that we say”). The “we” in verse 9 clearly refers to the same people. It’s a reference to those who proclaim the gospel. To paraphrase, Those of us who are making this charge, pointing out that Jews and Gentiles are hopeless sinners—are we saying we’re a special case? Are we claiming to be better than everyone else? “Not at all” (Romans 3:9). He uses an emphatic negative. In no way do we think that! We are wretched sinners too. Elsewhere, in 1 Timothy 1:13–15, Paul describes himself as the chief of sinners—“formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.” He retained a keen awareness of his own sin throughout his life. He was a mature, seasoned apostle when he wrote Romans 7:14: “I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” And verse 24: “Wretched man that I am!”

So Paul very acutely feels his own fallenness. He’s not setting himself up as a judge over the rest of humanity. He is merely stating the case. The entire human race is fallen and sinful, including Paul, his companions, and all believers. We all belong to the same sin-cursed race.

It’s good to remember that Christians are nothing but redeemed sinners—saved from condemnation not because we are somehow better, smarter, more worthy, or more acceptable to God. As Paul himself testifies, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Romans 7:18). “It is God who is at work in [us], both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Apart from Christ, we’re all in the same guilty condition as the world’s most dissipated human being. Without Christ, we would be completely under the command, control, dominion, and damning power of sin. As a matter of fact, we once did walk in step with the prince of the power of the air, Satan. Remember, in our natural, fallen state, we “were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:3).

That is the arraignment. Paul summons the entire Adamic race into court, and on the authority of God’s Word, he reads the capital charge against us: “[We] are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). The arraignment is complete. Paul now moves on to the indictment, which we’ll consider next time.

(Adapted from The Gospel According to Paul)

https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B200803

Gentile connection

JUNE 14, 2020 BEN J BENSING

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When the Jews rejected the gospel, the Apostles and other missionaries in the first-century, turned to the Gentiles. An interesting thought comes to one’s mind: had the Jews accepted the gospel, would the Gentiles still be part of the salvation equation, or, would the Gentiles be left out?

In the Old Testament, in Genesis 22:18, God swore an oath to Abraham saying, “And through your offspring all nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me”. (NIV) Fast forward to the New Testament, in Matthew 16:19, Jesus told Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”.

First of all, we have to remember that the Old Testament is the physical foreshadowing of New Testament realities, and therefore, in this context, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that through his offspring (i.e. Christ Jesus) “all nations” of the earth will be blessed. It’s not just physical, but spiritual blessings as well. Fact is, there is no greater blessing than to receive the gift of salvation. Such a blessing transcends the boundaries of the physical and the eternal.

It was the apostle Peter who opened the door of the kingdom of heaven (he has the keys, remember) on the day of the Pentecost when he preached to the Jews (Acts 2:38-42) about salvation in Christ Jesus. That day, about three thousand (3,000) Jews believed the message of salvation and were baptized in the name of the Lord.

Peter also opened that door of opportunity to the Gentiles when he visited the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion (a Gentile), and preached the word of God. According to Acts 10:34-48, Cornelius and his household and those that were with him believed the message of salvation and became the first Gentile converts to Christianity. It was also the first instance where the Holy Spirit was poured out among the Gentiles, just as it was poured out among the Jews on the day of the Pentecost – leaving the Jewish believers in awe and wonder that God would include the Gentiles in His plan for salvation.

Finally, the apostle Paul makes his argument that if the rejection of the Jews to the message of salvation in Christ means blessings to the whole world, how much more riches and blessings their repentance and acceptance would bring? (Romans 11:1-12)

Whether the Jews believed in Christ or rejected Him, it is clear from the beginning that God’s plan for salvation included the Gentiles. This is in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:18. As we can see, the word of God will stand the test of time, the test of circumstances, and the test of faith. Always.

https://benjiebensing.wordpress.com/2020/06/14/gentile-connection/