God’s Rescue of Man (Part 2)

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“…the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might rescue us out of this present evil age….”

(Part One may be found at the end of this blog.)

Has the devil ever taken you “in tow”?  This is what the picture represents. Your love for God being “towed” away.  Read on to find out what in the world I am talking about.

Apostle Paul says Jesus came to be the substitutionary atonement for our sins. He took our guilt and the penalty the guilt required.  One reason He did this was to rescue us from this present pernicious age.  Because it is pernicious, this age has a corrupting influence upon the born again believer. Apostle Peter tells us in II Peter 1:4 that God has given to born again believers everything we need to live a godly life and become partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

The corruption (phthora)  that we need to  escape is defined in the English dictionary as “to degrade with unsound principles or moral values” and “to change from good to bad in morals, manners, or actions”.  The Greek word means “a bringing or being brought into an inferior or worse condition, a destruction or corruption” (Vines).  Some authors refer to the effect of corruption as “inward decay and rottenness”. 

In other words, if we are not being led by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the corrupting influence of this age will cause our love for God (expressed in obedience to Him) to become infected with evil passionate cravings resulting in disobedience (sin). Our good morals or Christ likeness begins to rot or decay.  Another way to say it, is that our love for God is corrupted by a worldly love that considers something in the world more precious than God.

The effect of the  pernicious, corrupting influence of the age is to “carry away” or, as the original language says, “taken in tow”,  the believer from his steadfast love for God by “enticing him with his own lust” .  This is what James is saying in chapter 1:14:

“But each one is being solicited to sin when he is taken in tow and enticed by his own craving.” 
(Wuest)

Satan uses the things of this evil, pernicious age to “carry us away” or “take us in tow”.  The first thing he does is to get us distracted from God and focused on something  in his kingdom (the world) and he hooks us up to his Enticement Wagon, so to speak, so he can “tow” us further down the Road of Distraction where he entices you with things that you crave, i.e. attention, money, fame, power, liquor, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, drugs, rebellion, your way, freedom, etc.  And:

“Then when the aforementioned craving has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and this sin when it is full grown brings forth death.” (James 1:15)

It is “conceived” when we give our “will” over to do the enticement. When we say “Yes” to it. Satan knows what our passionate cravings were before we were saved and he will use the same passionate carvings to “entice” us to sin.  Plus new ones. I was never a drug user; therefore, he does not tempt me with illegal drugs but he tempts me with other  things that were in my life prior to salvation. Let us therefore, if possible, steer clear of areas of the world where we know our past and present temptations exist. Be wise as a serpent but as harmless as a dove.

In Mark 9:50 the Lord Jesus warns the twelve disciples “Have salt in yourselves…”  This is an important commandment and we will discuss salt and how it relates to this present evil age in the next blog. Hope you will join me.

Thank you for your time and God bless you and your family.

Don’t be taken in “tow” by Satan.  “…be keeping one’s self unspotted from the world” it says in James 1:27.  Stay free from the corruption of this age and stay steadfast in your love for God. Let us keep our minds full of the Word of God and our eyes fixed on His purposes in the earth.  Let us be led daily by the indwelling, powerful Holy Spirit who He has so graciously made to dwell in us!

Let us pay close attention to ourselves for the purpose of holiness.

Carl

 

 

 

 

God’s Rescue of Man (Part One)

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If you have been reading this blog, you probably know that “lust” in the Greek New Testament means either good or evil “passionate cravings”. Today we are starting a four  part blog on God rescuing us from this present evil age. I thought this picture was appropriate since the Pernicious One (Satan) and our flesh (old sinful nature) want us to follow our evil passionate cravings resulting in enslavement and destruction, ruining our Christian testimony and robbing us of God’s blessings.  May this study be a blessing and warning to you as it was to me.    Carl

“… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age…”  Galatians 1:4

The Lord Jesus willingly gave Himself on the Cross for our sins. This scripture states that the purpose  was to “rescue” us “from this present evil age”.  The word translated “rescue” means “to pluck out, to draw out, to rescue, to deliver”.  In 1522 Martin Luther referred to this in the preface of the first German language New Testament:

This gospel of God or New Testament is a great message, good news, sounded forth into all the world by the apostles, telling of a true David who strove with sin, death, and the devil, and overcame them, and thereby RESCUED all those who were captive in sin, afflicted with death, and overpowered by the devil. Without any merit of their own he made them righteous, gave them life, and saved them, so that they were given peace and brought back to God.” (Emphasis mine)

As we will see, the gospel is truly emancipation from bondage.  Our opening scripture says He came to rescue us from the ethical characteristics of the present age.

“Age” (aion) is defined as a “period of time” and is sometimes translated “world” in the NT.  Here it is defined by its moral characteristics. Trench says the following about it:

“All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale.”

Notice that it is called an “evil” age. The Greek word for this evil is poneros as opposed to kakos.  A kakos man is satisfied to perish in his own corruption but a poneros man “is not content unless he is corrupting others as well, and drawing them into the same destruction with himself.” (Wuest).  The English word best describing poneros is the word pernicious,   “causing great harm or damage often in a way that is not easily seen or noticed”.  A perfect description of Satan’ activity.  He is known as The Pernicious One. Let us praise God The Father for sending the Lord Jesus to destroy the works of Satan in our lives, setting us free from the dominion of darkness positionally and experientially (I John 3:8 & Col.1:13).

This ends Part I of God’s Rescue of Man.  Part 2 will discuss the pernicious influence of the age and the Lord Jesus’ command to “Have salt within yourselves…” .

Thank you for your time and God bless you and your family.

Carl

 

 

Bird Talk

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Said the Robin to the Sparrow

“I would really like to know why these anxious Human Beings rush about and worry so?”

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

“Oh, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you & me.”

—Unknown (Source: Teach Us To Number Our Days by David Roper)

Lord Jesus said:

“No one can serve two masters…” “You cannot serve God and mammon.”

ON THIS ACCOUNT I AM SAYING TO YOU, Stop worrying about your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink, and about your body, with what you will clothe yourself. Is not the life more than food and the body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the heaven, They are not sowing seed, nor reaping, not even are they collecting into granaries.  And yet your heavenly Father is feeding them.  As for you, do you not surpass them? “

“For your heavenly Father knows that you are in constant need of all these things.  But be seeking first the kingdom and His righteousness, and these things, all of them, shall be added to you.  (abbreviated Matthew 6:24-34 NASB & Expanded Translation, Emphasis mine)

Please read the complete text when you have opportunity. I would like to briefly expand on several points:

  1. Jesus’ words tell us that worry keeps us from obeying God. He told us in the  parable of the soils (or hearts) that worry is one of the weeds that chokes out the word of God in our hearts keeping us from knowing it and obeying it.
  2. When you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you receive His righteousness; therefore, you have already sought His righteousness as instructed in verse 33. You already possess it in Christ through salvation. Romans 5:17 says “….much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.”
  3. As a born again believer, you can now “see” (i.e. understand) and “enter” (i.e. begin to live under the rule of God) “the kingdom” of God. This what Jesus told Nicodemus in his discussion about being born again in John 3.  We now just need to keep expanding the kingdom of God in our character and life, i.e. II Peter 1: 2-11.
  4. THEREFORE, as a believer, you have and are fulfilling the instructions that Jesus gave in verse 33. And this means “…that all these things shall be added to you.”  So let us “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.” (Philippians 4: 6) “Casting all of your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7)

As a born again believers in Jesus Christ, we are precious to God the Father.  Evidence of this is seen on the Cross as He sent Jesus to display His self-sacrificial, agape love for us.  May we lay hold of His promise (v33) by faith and walk with our minds girded for action and sober in spirit; free from the crippling and thought paralyzing mental attitudes of worry, fear and such.

Remember Texas and Louisiana in your prayers as they grapple with Hurricane Harvey.

Carl

 

 

 

Isolation

This is another MD Anderson scene that brought a spiritual truth to my mind. 

Isolation. 

One of Satan’s favorite schemes. Take the coal out of the fire and put it to the side by itself and what happens? It goes out. No fire. The same is true of the Christian. Take him/her out of church and isolate them from other believers and their spiritual zeal will diminish or go out entirely. He that wanders from the sheep fold becomes easy prey.

 The church is the Body of Christ and Jesus is the Head. He instituted the local church as a place for His children to be taught truth and be built up spiritually to carry on His work in the earth until He returns.  Through the writer of the Book of Hebrews, the Lord says:

[25] not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

One of the many benefits of obeying this command and assembling together in church, is the encouragement we give and receive from one another.  We need courage to face our daily battles and challenges that we might not feel isolated and slip into fear.

He also warned that there would be tares, false Christians, in the visible church. Not all church goers that claim the Name of Jesus are born again believers.  There are also Christians who are walking in the flesh (controlled by indwelling sinful nature). Satan uses both, to say things or do things in congregations that ultimately hurt or injure hearts of others and make them never darken the doors of church again.  If you currently are, or have been a member of a church, you may possibly be able to identify with this.  

There are those, through no fault of their own, who are unable to attend church due to jobs, illness or disabilities.  In those cases the church can reach out to them and bridge the gap with visits, internet, prayer and other means.

Let it suffice to say, DON’T ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE ISOLATED FROM THE BODY OF CHRIST.  If you know someone who is isolated,  reach out to them and encourage them to get back into a church where there is fellowship in the Lord, the Word of God is preached and people are encouraged to read the Bible themselves.  If you know an isolated shut-in maybe the Lord is showing you a place to pour out the grace He has bestowed on you.

Thank you for your time.

Let’s Pay Close Attention To Ourselves.

Carl

Good Advice

While recently at MD Anderson in Houston I noticed that the signage in some departments held a message applicable to Christians.  This one was in a patient’s room and the normal meaning is obvious.  The spiritual message is:

Call (for the Helper), Don’t Fall (into Satan’s snare). Stay safe (in the Grace of God). Call for help (when under attack).

The Lord Jesus, after He went into Heaven, sent the mighty Spirit of God to be the believer’s Helper, Comforter, Teacher and Sanctifier.  Each born-again believer is sealed in Christ Jesus with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).  Jesus knew we would need a Helper.  Sometimes The Helper in us is all we need to overcome sin and the devil.  At other times we may need the prayer, advice or encouragement from the Helper in a brother or sister in-Christ.  Avail yourself of the Holy Spirit’s assistance if you need it.

Remember:  Call. Don’t Fall. Stay Safe. Call for help.

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  Jesus (John 16:7)

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”. (Acts 2:2-4)

….but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)

May it be so for all of us!

Carl

Two Things God Cannot Do

There is a place on our property where two wet weather creeks merge. From a vantage point you can view the water moccasins hunting prey. Once, I watched one tightly coiled up adjacent to where the water rippled over some debris and fell into the main channel. The snake laid in ambush for some poor victim, just as that ancient serpent Satan does today.

 Apostle Paul told us Satan walks around as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour in Ephesians 5:8. Paul also wrote the Corinthians (II Corinthians 2:11) about the schemes of the devil:

“But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, in order that no advantage be take of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

In the spirit of Paul’s statement about not being ignorant of Satan’s scheme, I want to share two things God can not do.

In Romans 8: 33 Paul wrote concerning the blessedness of the “chosen out ones”:

“Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.”

The first thing God can not do is He can not ACCUSE you and JUSTIFY you at the same time.

In Romans 8:34 Paul continued:

“Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

The second thing God (Christ) can not do is He can not CONDEMN us while He is always MAKING INTERCESSION for us.

Even God cannot do these two things: accuse while justifying and condemn while always making intercession for us. KNOWING THIS HELPS US DISCERN THE ATTACKS OF SATAN.

We know the human mind is a spiritual battlefield and is one portal through which Satan attacks us. Not all of our thoughts originate with us. That is why Apostle Paul said “…and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5)

In 2 Corinthians 11: 3 Paul says to the believers in Corinth the following about Satan’s schemes:

“But I am afraid lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (NASB)

And how did the serpent spring his craftiness upon these believers MINDS? By using words and thoughts from the serpent and his servants. In the very next verse Paul says this:

“For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” (NASB)

There is a tremendous amount of Truth that could be shared on the subject of spiritual warfare. But let it be sufficient for this post, to say that we need to be aware that accusing and condemning thoughts are not from God The Father or the Lord Jesus Christ, nor are thoughts that are contrary to what the Word of God (The Bible) teaches. If we read and study the Word of God (The Bible), we will begin to understand what the Lord Jesus would say and do and the same for God the Father. Then, when we have thoughts or reasoning that is questionable, we have a backdrop to hold it up against and evaluate if it is from the Holy Spirit, ourself or Satan. Doing this, we will not be deceived by another Jesus, another spirit, nor will we be deceived by a different gospel.

The Lord Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:19 how he deals with us:

“As for myself, as many as I am fond of, I reprove so as to bring out conviction and confession, and I discipline, correct, and guide.” (Wuest)

Reprove means “to criticize or correct (someone) usually in a gentle way.

Conviction means “the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth.

Confession means in this context “to confess our sins”.

He corrects us to convict us of our sin so we will agree with Him, that it is sin and repent of it so our fellowship with Him and The Father can be restored and we increase in personal holiness. The Lord goes on to say that He will “discipline, correct, and guide.” Hear what the Holy Spirit says in Hebrews 12:7-11 (Wuest Expanded Translation):

“And you have completely forgotten the exhortation which is of such a nature as to speak to you as to sons,…..stop making light of the Lord’s discipline, correction, and guidance. Stop fainting when you are being effectually rebuked by Him. For the one who the Lord loves, He disciplines, corrects, and guides, and He scourges every son whom He receives and cherishes. It is for the purpose of discipline, correction, and guidance that you are enduring. As those who by nature are sons is God dealing with you. For what son is there whom the Father does not discipline, correct, and guide? But if you are without discipline, correction, and guidance, of which all [sons] have been made partakers, it follows therefore that you are bastards and not sons.”    
“Furthermore, we have been having indeed fathers of our flesh as those who disciplined, corrected, and guided us, and we have been in the habit of giving them reverence. Shall we not much rather put ourselves in subject to the Father of spirits and live? For on the one hand, they disciplined, corrected, and guided us for a few days upon the basis of that which seemed good to them, but He disciplines, corrects, and guides us for our profit, to the end that we might partake of His holiness. In fact, all discipline, correction, and guidance for the time being does not seem to be joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yields a return of peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been exercised by it.”
In conclusion, Satan is the one who accuses us and condemn us and not God the Father or Lord Jesus. The Father has justified us in Lord Jesus at a great cost and He, Lord Jesus, is interceding for us before the throne of God. Satan wants to bring us to depression, hopelessness and defeat, believing we are forsaken by God. Whereas, God wants us in fellowship with Him walking in the light and growing in personal holiness, forsaking sin. He reproves and disciplines because we are His children and He loves us. Bless His Wonderful Name. If God is for us, who can be against us?

Let Us Pay Close Attention to Ourselves for the Purpose of Holiness,

Carl