What, in the World?

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A true Christian, a disciple – how does he or she handle being in but not of the world? This is not an easy question to answer. For example: some entertainment is appropriate for a Christian. Some appropriate entertainment has a little inappropriate content. A certain level of friendliness with non-Christians (along with love and concern) is necessary to communicate the gospel. Intimate friendships lead to compromise. I would like to share some guidelines that I hope will be helpful. Assuming a genuine relationship with Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, our number one priority is to please and honor Him. Are we willing and determined to do that, even if it means that we can’t do certain things or go certain places that are common among unsaved people? (Can we do this without a “holier than thou” attitude)? Do we find our joy and pleasure in those things that matter for eternity or is there a secret longing for the dainties “of Egypt (i.e; the world)?” Are our hearts “wrapped up” in those things that draw us ever closer to Him? Or do we live for things like fun and work? If we are not giving ourselves constantly to the things that draw us closer to Him, something is wrong! Only as we grow in holiness of heart and life will we demonstrate a wonderful alternative to the empty lifestyle of those outside of Christ. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). Anything that dishonors Him in the eyes of others must not be allowed in our lives. Selah! He matters above all else. Give Him first place in our lives. Live to honor and glorify Him in the eyes and minds of others as they watch us.    Ron

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Caught in the Act

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So very often, Satan’s work is almost done in our minds before we have a clue that we are being manipulated. Let’s look at some ways that we can catch him in the act. We must be sober (take seriously) and be vigilant (stay on guard). Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). We must not settle for a superficial knowledge of Scripture. Jesus successfully resisted Satan’s corrupting of Scripture by knowing what it really says. (See Matthew 4:1-11). We must not be “….Ignorant of his (the devil’s) devices.” (From II Corinthians 2:11). The only way that that’s going to happen is if we, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Next, we need to know that we are in a battle, a struggle and a war with unseen enemies. Ephesians 6:12 warns us that “….we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” This is not a game! We face a strong, implacable, determined and wicked enemy. Our responsibility is found in II Corinthians 10:4-5: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds); Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Anything less and we will be severely wounded in action. All we need to overcome the enemy is found in Ephesians 6:13-18. Selah! All of the above cannot be done in our own strength. It is, “….Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (From Zechariah 4:6). I urge you to give some serious thought to the content of this article.    Ron

Internal Manipulation

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As we pointed out in yesterday’s article, Satan has access to our minds. Through our minds, he can influence us. He moves us to imagine something so appealing that we feel that we need it, must have it and we deserve it. (There are, of course, legitimate needs. The Bible gives guidelines to discern what is truly needed). The enemy then presents an imagination of how nice the desired item(s) would be to have and what it could do for us and how we could enjoy it/ them. A desire is born and grows as we begin to rationalize how we can get the desired item(s). We figure out a way to obtain what we crave to have and now we are the “proud” owners of the acquisition(s). Eve saw the fruit. Can you imagine how delicious that fruit looked? Remember that fruit was not yet under the curse!” it would be beyond delicious. She began to crave it. The craving must be satisfied. The clincher: it would make the partaker very wise. The trap is sprung! She chose to eat the fruit (do what she wanted instead of what God commanded). Adam joined her and made the wrong choice, as well. Both imagined themselves as becoming as wise as God..They could be proud of being so wise. This has been the devil’s basic way of operating ever since. He even had the audacity to try it on our Lord. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16). The tragic fact is that we repeatedly fall for Satan’s lies. That is, we do until we see how we have been deceived and realize that we don’t have to let Satan manipulate us. We don’t have to let him play us like puppets on his strings. Selah! Remember that “….every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” (From James 1:14). There are ways to be freed from these self-imposed traps. We’ll take a close look at these tomorrow, God willing.     Ron

Point of Entry

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When your home is broken into, the reason is to steal, kill or destroy. Jesus, in John 10:10, points this out. He said, ” The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The thief here is descriptive of Satan. He seeks to steal, kill and destroy (do damage). When police investigate a burglary, one thing they look for is the point of entry. Points of entry are important for home security. How can these places be protected? Protecting ourselves from Satan breaking into our lives is even more important. What is his point of entry? What are his tools or means of inflicting damage in our lives. One way or another, he has access to our minds. He cannot possess a true Christian. He can, however, plant thoughts in our minds or influence our thinking. His shows us something interesting, attractive and desirable to the remaining remnants of our old Adamic human nature (our “flesh”). It may be something that we see with our physical eyes or an imagination impressed upon our mind’s eye. Or he may suggest material things or wealth that we should have to be happy or fulfilled. He will remind us that we have a right to enjoy “things.” Or he may whet our appetites for immoral behavior and/or for power and prestige. He uses the lust (strong cravings) of the eyes, the ‘flesh” and our pride to in order to damage us. What can we do to to protect ourselves from this kind of invasion? God willing, we’ll look at that tomorrow. Selah!There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13).     Ron

Wiles, Devices and Snares

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Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Our adversary tries various sneaky traps. He even tried using Scripture to persuade Jesus to sin! Jesus stopped him in his tracks by “….rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (From II Timothy 2:15). One approach that Satan uses today is to suggest to our minds and hearts that we really did great in our service for the Lord. If we think that we did, we’ve been trapped! We’ve committed the sin of pride. Then the devil makes us aware of our guilt in order to discourage us. The cure is the same in both examples: use the whole armour of God (See Ephesians 6:10-17)) and “rightly divide” God’s Word.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (II Corinthians 2:11). Too many Christians today are ignorant of Satan’s devices! Our enemy uses the same means that he used back in Eden, long ago. These devices are the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. (See I John 2:16).
 
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). Our only means of avoiding or escaping the devil’s snare is to know, obey and use God’s Word. Selah! If we don’t intend to waste our lives as victims of Satan’s snare, Biblical illiteracy must be overcome!     Ron

Satan’s Resume

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The Bible has much descriptive info on Satan. This gives us a comprehensive awareness of his character and activities. 1). That old serpent (Revelation 12:9). 2). An enemy (Isaiah 59:19). 3). The Destroyer (Job 15:21). 4). The Devourer (Malachi 3:11). 5). The Devil and the Deceiver (Both in Revelation 12:9). 6). Our Adversary and a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8). 7). The Accuser (Revelation 12:10). 8). Ruler of the Darkness (Ephesians 6:12). 9). The Mind Blinder (II Corinthians 4:4). 10). The Prince of the Power of the Air; the operative spirit in all unsaved people (Ephesians 2:2). 11). A Murderer (John 8:44). This gives us a composite picture of what we are up against. The enemy of our soul hates all who have embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior because they won’t be eternal prisoners in Hell. He hates the unsaved and looks forward to the time when they will suffer forever. He enslaves people in vices. He is a liar and the father of lies. He is dangerous beyond our ability to understand. We don’t stand a chance against him unless we are born again. If we are saved, “….greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (From I John 4:4). Even though this is true, we can only enjoy this victory if we are studying, learning, applying and obeying the principles and commands in God’s Word. Selah! Know Satan for what he is and what drives him. Don’t think that you can resist him apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit enabling you to correctly apply Scripture to counter the devil’s attacks. Ron

Three Enemies-Part 3

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The Devil He is behind it all! Keep in mind, however, that our enemy can only succeed if we don’t “know” him. We must know him and his tricks, tools, weapons and strategy. For today, let’s see how Satan is assisted in defeating the child of God. First, he uses this world’s enticements to pull us into going along with the world’s ways. We are drawn into wrong thinking, wrong values, wrong behavior and wrong goals. Second, he has the aid of our “old” nature, the flesh. There remain remnants of our fallen nature (that we inherited from Adam) working from within us and fueling a desire to partake of the deceitful “pleasures of sin for a season.” There is only one way to overcome Satan’s external attack and only one way to overcome his internal ally. Jesus models how we can do this. Our Savior knew His enemy and how he works. Do we? Our Lord knew how to overcome our crafty adversary. Do we? Think on this: “And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh Him up into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto Him, If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto Him, All these things will I give Thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth Him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto Him” (Matthew 4:3-11). Satan had the audacity to quote Scripture and twist it to test Jesus. Jesus was not caught off guard. Our Lord countered with a true and correct use of His Word. The devil was roundly defeated and Jesus continued His mission on earth until it was finished. Our victories hinge on knowing the Word and applying it in the same way that Jesus did. Selah! Understanding the enemy will occupy our thinking for a few days, starting tomorrow, God willing.    Ron