Hospitality and Charity

The common denominator between hospitality and charity (and the reason I am discussing them together) is that both refer to the generous sharing of our wealth w/others: hospitality is what it is called when it is in regard to entertaining others – most especially God’s people, and charity it is what I am calling it when such sharing is in relation to the God (i.e. His church). God expects His people to practice both: hospitality and charity (Rom 12:13; 1Pe 4:9; Luk 12:21 – we are to be “rich toward God” – most specifically, His church/covenant community or house – Deu 16:9-17 = At the center of two of Israel’s most important Sabbatical Feasts was the giving of a free-will offering from each family’s wealth to the church/covenant community. This is the context of 2Co 8-9. As it re: to God’s house, see Hag 1:3-4, 9; 2Sa 24:24).

 

The word to describe those who fail to be generous w/their wealth (who are neither hospitable or charitable) is “stingy” (Pro 23:6 = Literally, “evil eye”. Hebrew idiom referring to a person who is characterized by stinginess or lack of generosity when it comes to sharing their wealth w/God or others).

 

The greatest temptations we will face in life are those related to three areas: sex (e.g. temptations toward immorality), family (temptation toward idolatry or putting our “water family” above our “blood/covenant family” and God – i.e. “the blood of the covenant is to be thicker than the water of the womb”) and money (being stingy w/our wealth). The area that is most dangerous or difficult is money – i.e. being hospitable and charitable (Mat 19:23-24 “easier for a camel to go thru the eye of a needle”) = Hyperbole indicating the level of difficulty Jesus is associating w/those who are rich and getting into heaven. On a scale from 1 to 10, the difficulty is a 10.

 

Jesus reveals that possessing an “evil/bad eye” (i.e. being characterized by stinginess) indicates that you are filled w/spiritual “darkness” and serve the false god of “mammon” (Mat 6:24 “money”) = Mammon – which is more than just our money. It refers to earthly riches or resources. A person serving mammon as their god, is a person who does not generously share those resources (e.g. food, clothing, lodging, money).

 

Both Jesus and Paul reveal that what causes a person to be stingy is lack of trust/refusal to trust in God for their future (i.e. they don’t believe God will take care of them; they look to their wealth as their security rather than God) (1Ti 6:17-18; Luk 12:16-19 “tear down my barns and build larger ones…you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax” = Rather than view his present windfall as the God ordained opportunity to be “rich toward God” [v21], he instead uses it to remove his dependence upon God in the future).

 

What stingy people (those not practicing hospitality or charity) fail to realize:

 

6.1. The source of all their wealth is not themselves (i.e. their effort or ability) but God (Deu 8:18).

 

6.2. One of the biggest reasons God gives wealth is so that we can use it to get to heaven: as the means to “buying a place in heaven” (1Ti 6:19 w/Mat 6:19-21) = Where we invest our wealth will determine where our affections/loyalty/future ultimately resides (heaven or earth, heaven or hell?).

 

6.3. Being poor is often God’s merciful judgment of those who are stingy since such stinginess is a sign of what such people would be if they had more money resulting in greater (or more serious judgment) (Jam 4:2-3; 2Co 9:6; Pro 11:24, 28:22; Luk 12:42-48).

 

What (then) is required/what it looks like to be hospitable and charitable:

7.1. Hospitable (or generous in the entertainment of others – most esp. God’s people) (Mat 14-21, 15:32-38) = What do we see in both accounts? There was lots of food leftover. Jesus knew exactly how much food needed to be made to satisfy the hunger of every single person, yet each time purposely made more. And since they lacked the technology to preserve such items (they didn’t have fridges), that meant much of it would go to waste (the amounts listed were more than Jesus and the disciples could have eaten before some of it went bad). So Jesus not only made more than enough, He deliberately knew that much of what was left would rot (or go to waste). The point (then) not to miss = This is how we are to practice hospitality. Never should anyone leave hungry or there be so little left that everyone feels awkward (e.g. the chip bowl is empty, there is only one piece of meat left, there is only enough for everyone to have one cookie for dessert). To be hospitable means to have plenty of leftovers (waste!). If you have a problem w/that then it’s b/c your view of what it means to be responsible w/your resources, or the money God gives you is not biblical and needs to change. What you think is prudence is stinginess and lack of trust in God. God wants us to be “wasteful” when it comes to hospitality. Also, in respect to hospitality consider (Heb 13:2 w/Gen 18:1-8) = We should not be feeding our guests the leftovers or what we had lying around in the pantry – or even the cheap crap we may like to eat during the week. We are instead to give them the kind of food they consider to be among the best and/or a delicious feast.

7.2. Charitable (or generous toward God/God’s church/covenant community) (Luk 12:13-21) “rich man” = Person possessing most of what he gains (hence the reason he even has some/a little for the future – or enough to build “barns” [small storage units]); “land…produced plentifully” = His income that year was far beyond its normal yield (i.e. a windfall). He was like a person receiving an “inheritance” (v13). How then we are to view such situations of abundance: 1) consistent w/the theme of the free-will offering (e.g. those made during the Feast of Weeks and Booths), we are to interpret all such yields as God wanting us to give above and beyond our normal tithe – i.e. we are also to provide a free-will offering (to His church/covenant community) in respect to that abundance, 2) God expects that free-will offering to be the majority of our windfall (it is God who is supposed to get “rich” – i.e. be the one possessing most of the gain/abundance, in this scenario – not us. Consider again the definition of “rich” in respect to the man in this example [see italics]), 3) such windfalls/abundance are a test from God since “one’s life (one’s judgment before God) does not consist in (will not be determined based on) the abundance of his possessions” (or laying “up treasure” for self) but in being “rich toward God.” Like the rich man (and as discussed earlier), many people will end up condemned by God (i.e. go to hell) b/c they failed this most important test: when they received an abundance, they failed to practice charity (toward God) and were instead stingy – keeping the majority (or all) of the money for themselves.

Bearing the Image of God

1. Image bearing was God’s PURPOSE in creating us.

2. Image bearing is, therefore, how we WORSHIP God.

3. Being God’s image-bearers is an immense and rare PRIVILEGE.

4. Image bearing is why God SAVES people.

5. Image bearing is, therefore, what will determine where we spend ETERNITY.

6. To be made in the image of God is to reflect, imitate, and copy Him in FUNCTION, not form.

7. Attempts to reflect God in FORM are the basis of history’s first two sins.

What being an image-bearer of God looks like:

1. Like God, we put all things under our care, in their proper order.

2. Like God, we develop or cultivate the raw materials we possess.

3. Like God, be most committed to the church.

4. Like God, we respond in kind.

5. Like God, mercy/forgiveness/grace never negates justice.

6. Like God, we view the apostate as a spouse who left for another lover and murdered our children.

7. Like God, we are only willing to have relationships with those who seek Him.

8. Like God, we don’t care what the wicked thinks of us.

9. Like God, we make his Law our highest authority.

10. Like God, we view all truth, even the smallest, as most essential.

Coveting

Coveting happens whenever we choose to indulge the temptation to pleasure our minds with thoughts of possessing or experiencing what God says is presently prohibited or forever forbidden (Jos 7:21 = pleasured/afflicting himself thinking about the forbidden fame and fortune, power and prestige of those things could bring; e.g. Exo 20:17/Deu 5:21 = pleasuring/afflicting ourselves thinking about us living in someone’s house, sleeping w/their wife or having their life). *when you choose to pleasure your mind w/thoughts of something/someone, you are (now in a very real way) desiring that something/someone (that is how God sees it)

Examples:

1.1. choosing to pleasure myself by thinking about my life as some pagan movie star or rock star;

1.2. choosing to pleasure myself by thinking/looking at someone sexually that is not my God-given spouse;

1.3. choosing to pleasure myself by imagining myself in a career that God will never give me;

1.4. choosing to pleasure myself by imagining life as something other than what the truth/reality says it is (tons of people are in a perpetual covetous state b/c they refuse to live according to the world as God has made it and is currently guiding it and instead live in their fantasy world –the one they are most pleasured by – e.g. a world where I don’t have to have work hard and sharpen my mind to be successful; a world where I get to be king and everybody will listen to my ideas; a world where Jedi are not sorcerers [iow: fantasy can also be coveting]– see trailer for the Mandalorian season 2).

Coveting is the sin that put mankind and this world on the path away from God toward the devil, death and destruction (Gen 3:1-6).

Coveting is a form of idolatry (Eph 5:3-5; Col 3:5; e.g. God is incompetent or corrupt – not giving me what I need to be happy or complete).

Example: B/C I am not immediately punished for the sins of my mind/coveting –or the longer I go on doing it and nothing happens, I am emboldened to keep doing it, thinking I am safe/okay IOW: The god I now serve is a false god who doesn’t see or care about what goes on in my head – only in my actions (Psa 10:11, 13; See also Psa 73:1-20, 21-22 = When I gave in to the temptation to covet; Heb 3:12-13).

 

Coveting makes us adulterers before God (Jam 4:1-2 = Coveting means you are now cheating on Christ and an enemy of God).

Coveting is the gateway to every other sin and what makes faithfulness impossible (Jam 1:3-5 [“desire” = coveting; “lured” = drawn away from the safety of self-control/restraint; “enticed” = baited; “conceived” = impregnated/seized us as prisoner; “sin” = sinful physical actions] = Sinful thoughts/coveting leads to sinful actions; Hence the reason coveting is the last of the ten commandments [mentioning something last was an ancient way of indicating the source/cause of those items previously listed – e.g. Eph 5:3-5 and Col 3:5; See also Rom 13:8-10; Hence the reason also Jesus gives a stern warning in Luk 12:15).

Continuing to covet will lead to apostasy or your day of grace being done (Heb 10:26; Eph 4:17-22 v19 – “become callous”] = Hardening of the mind/spiritual lobotomy, no longer able to receive/submit to spiritual truth [Exo 7-11 = Pharaoh hardened his heart so God permanently hardened him to repentance/spiritual truth and obedience]; 2Th 2:11-12).

Saying no to coveting is easy and the key to a life of faithfulness that is easy to accomplish (Jam 3:2 w/Mat 12:34; e.g. saying no to buying a box of donuts versus saying to a box of donuts that is sitting right in front of you 2 versus a 10 on a scale of 1-10 in re: to temptation; Keep in mind also – Mat 6:9-20 w/1Co 10:12-13 = The way to “take heed” so as not to fall, is not allow temptation to go beyond that which comes from coveting since this is the only temptation w/in your “ability” and God provides a way of “escape” for [this IOW is the kind of temptation Paul is referring to here in v13 – it is the temptation that comes in re: to coveting. If you rebel and break thru that, all bets and promises of deliverance are off]).

Making Jesus the Lord of our minds is how we stop coveting (2Co 10:5; Job 31:1; Heb 11:6; Phi 4:8; Stupid Christians think that their minds are their own—that what they do there is off limits to God. Here however is what they miss/refuse to understand: if Jesus doesn’t have Lordship over your mind, He will not be your Savior).

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: WHO IS THE LORD OF YOUR MIND? Who determines what you do and don’t spend your time thinking about? Jesus or you? If it’s not Jesus, then it’s game over. Jos 24:15 – choose this day whom you will serve.

Demons and Demon Possession – Part 5

The abundance of biblical and extrabiblical evidence regarding demons and demon possession should leave no doubt of their existence.

The religious (or Christian) community is not the only one who acknowledges the existence of demons and demon possession. Demons and demon possession are also confirmed in the research and observation of many within the scientific community including those in the fields of philosophy, social science, psychiatry and physics.

(Who then are the demons?)

The Bible seems to indicate that demons are cherubs or priestly angels, who because of their rebellion, forfeited not only their position as anointed guardians of God’s throne, earthly kingdom and people, but also the privilege of possessing third-dimensional, material or physical bodies.

The loss of these bodies is among the main contributing factors to the demons becoming “body-snatchers” (i.e. seeking to possess the bodies of other sentient/reasoning beings – humans) (In re: to possessing their physical bodies – Gen 3:1-15; Eze 28:12-18).

The combination of losing of their physical bodies (in Eden) along with their (later) defeat by Christ (in a heavenly war), has intensified the demons’ efforts in destroying God’s kingdom and people on earth.

(Rev 12:1-17 – “the devil has come to you in great wrath, because he knows his time is short.”)

The best way to accomplish the demons’ mission of destruction against the church (God’s kingdom and people) is through bewitching and possessing Christians.

IOW: Christians can be 1) bewitched = under a demon’s persuasive power/listening to them and 2) possessed = under a demon’s persuasive power and physical control. We are Satan and the demonic realm’s number one target for bewitching/possession (1Pe 5:8). How can we be demon possessed if we are already “possessed” by the Holy Spirit? B/C we can “quench the spirit” (1Th 5:19).

Two anecdotal accounts from missionaries (Burma and Melanesia)

“Another individual had a [demonic] spirit…but, on hearing the Gospel, he professed to become converted and had no more communication with the spirit. It had left him, he said; it spoke to him no more. After a protracted trial I baptized him. I watched his case with interest, and for several years he led an unimpeachable Christian life; but, on losing his religious zeal, and disagreeing with some Church members…it was soon after reported that he was [possessed again] by the [demonic] spirit. The man said [however] it spoke very differently. Its language was exceedingly pleasant to hear, and produced great brokenness of heart. It said, ‘Love each other; act righteously-act uprightly’ with other exhortations as he had heard from the teachers [of Christianity].” – Dr. Mason (Burma)

“There was a certain man at Lo who would…descend into Panoi, the abode of the dead. The first thing was to assemble twenty young boys…and to shake over them leaves…powerful and magical with charms. In the meanwhile the subjects [the boys] began to be moved…then the [spirits] entered [these boys]….Much possessed they seemed to have lost their senses…This was done once after a Christian teacher had come to Lo, and two of his scholars whom he let go to prove that it was a deception were possessed.” – Codrington (The Melanesians)

Since possession affords demons respite from incarceration in Hades, they will also possess non-Christians.

(Zec 9:11 w/Luk 11:14 = Place without rest; Luk 16:22-23/2Pe 2:3 = Place of fiery torment).

“The foregoing documents have placed beyond doubt the wide distribution of the phenomena of possession over the habitable globe. However much [the evidence] may differ in detail, at bottom they are all identical…The dominant conception of the present time is that no psychic life [spirit] supervenes [interacts w/the material world] except in the presence of a material vehicle and that no spirit, either pure or possessed only of an etheric body [spiritual body alone] exists in this [material] world.” – T. Oesterreich (ibid)

“The loa (demons possessing people in Haitian voodoo rituals) apparently have no corporeal existence apart from the persons they are possessing. While paintings of Catholic saints are sometimes used in voodoo sanctuaries to represent some of the more well-known loas, these loas only appear when they have a human body to utilize.” – Herbert Culbertson (“Biblical Demon Possession And Haitian Loa Possession”)

Demon possession usually manifests itself through mental illness.

God promised to strike people w/mental illness as punishment for their rebellion. The source of such mental illness however can be demon possession (Deu 28:28 w/Rev 18:2 w/Mat 12:43-45; e.g. 1Sa 16:14 w/18:10); e.g. Mar 5:1-9; Luk 4:31-35).

Demonic bewitching is most likely the cause of demon possession.

Bewitching is the means used by the demonic realm to take full possession. The longer a person listens, is persuaded by or carries out those sins associated with bewitching in Scripture, the more control the demon is assuming of their person (1Sa 15:22-23 w/16:14 w/18:10; Joh 13:2 w/27).

Demonic bewitching is the result of practicing the sin of idolatry, sorcery or apostasy.

When a person practices the sin of idolatry, sorcery or apostasy they are listening to/being bewitched by demons – which means they are on the path/vulnerable to demon possession. These sins are likewise (also) the cause of such bewitching. How (then) to avoid being bewitched (and ultimately demon-possessed) is by never being guilty of practicing these sins.

8.1. Idolatry

(What is idolatry?)

8.1.1. Serving/worshipping/possessing/tolerating a false god/religion because of what you believe or do (Exo 32:1-8 w/1Co 10:7, 14//Deu 32:16-17, 21 and Psa 106:36-38; Psa 135:15-18; 1Co 10:16-21)

8.1.2. Embracing a false gospel (Gal 1:6; 1Pe 4:3//Ga 3:1; 1Ti 4:1)

8.1.3. Being sexually active/intimate with someone outside the covenant community of God’s people (sexual idolatry) (1Co 6:13-20, 10:8 w/14 w/Num 25:1-2, 9//2Co 6:14-16).

8.2. Sorcery

(What is sorcery?)

8.2.1. Directly practicing or being involved with those who practice methods/means for accessing power or knowledge from the spiritual/metaphysical/supernatural realm outside those methods/means prescribed by God and given exclusively to His covenant community:

8.2.1.1. God’s prescription to the covenant community (for accessing/harnessing spiritual power or special knowledge): 1) faith (Jam 5:15; Mat 9:22-29, 15:28; Mat 21:21 w/Luk 10:17-19; Contra – Mat 13:58), 2) prayer (Jam 5:16; Luk 11:5-13; 1Ki 8:28-53), 3) the Bible (Rom 12:2 w/2Pe 1:19 w/Joh 17:17; Deu 4:6-8, 39-40), 4) the sacraments and keys given to the church’s elders (Mat 28:19 w/1Pe 3:21; Mat 26:28 w/Joh 13:1-15; Mat 16:18-19 w/18:18-20 w/Joh 20:21-23), 5) God’s house (Psa 36:7-9, 84:4, 133:3, 134:3).

8.2.1.2. God’s prohibitions = The practice or involvement in anything outside those things listed above (God’s prescription) including but not limited to: 1) casting spells and all unbiblical forms of spiritual warfare: witches/warlocks/wiccans/witchcraft, witch-doctors/voodoo/black/white magic, shamans/shamanism, diviners/divination/alchemy, Pentecostals/Pentecostalism/charismatic forms of binding and loosing, slaying in the spirit and contact miracles, miracle-workers/faith-healers (e.g. Num 22:1-7, 23:23; Isa 47:10-12; Deu 18:10), 2) clairvoyance: psychics/psychic discovery, Pentecostal/charismatic prophets/post-canonical prophecy; false (e.g. Act 16:16; 1Co 13:9-10; Deu 13:1-3), 3) consulting the dead or other beings in the spiritual realm: necromancer/mediums/necromancy/mediumship, astrology (i.e. spirits in the sky), Ouija boards (Lev 19:31, 20:1; Deu 18:11; Isa 8:19), 4) all forms of fetishism (def.) Using non-ordained material objects to access/activate powers or knowledge available in the spiritual realm/fourth dimension through fixed rituals/procedures/practices/actions: reading palms/tarot cards/dice/tea leaves/chicken bones/blood sacrifices/burnt offerings, etc., employing magic wands/potions, spiritual chanting and unbiblical forms of meditation or positivity empowerment, the vast majority of those working in the CAM or Holistic industry where things are used to harness “energy” in the body for the purpose of healing (chiropractic, yoga[1], massage-therapy, energy-therapies, aromatherapies, essential oils/herbs, acupuncture[2], spiritual cleanses, etc.) (Deu 18:11; Jer 44:16-20; Eze 13:18, 20; e.g. Exo 7:11-12 or Eze 21:21; Heb 9:8-10), 5) practicing God’s prescription w/o being a part of His covenant community (e.g. Act 19:11-16) 6) Possessing/participating in books, games, movies or other mediums that promote sorcery in any of its various forms: the books/movies of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Walt Disney’s Frozen, Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella (Acts 19:17-20 = Notice they do not attempt to sell their books. Why? They realized that any involvement w/such things – even for curiosity/education is forbidden and damning; Act 19:19 – “magic arts” [Literally, “curious arts”] w/1Ti 5:13 – “busybodies”[same word] = Curious/involved in things forbidden; Rev 2:24 – “deep things of Satan” = ML a euphemism for sorcery since it is associated w/”Jezebel” – v20 w/2Ki 9:22).

8.2.2. IMPORTANT FACT NOT TO MISS: Sorcery is real – i.e. prohibited spiritual power or special knowledge is being – or attempting to be, accessed/harnessed by those who practice it in all its various forms (e.g. 1Sa 28:5-16; BTW: saying that this is not what you are doing – though what you do falls under the definition of sorcery, does not make it any less sorcery/attempting to access/harness prohibited spiritual power).

The words of Arthur Pink, former preacher and one-time spiritist/medium are worth mentioning again in regard to this point,

“Many were attracted to the occult simply by curiosity and then by a desire to investigate the proof it offered of the existence of the spirit world. Nearly every spiritist I have met, began being a blank unbeliever in its phenomena. Then when they see its phenomena is real, they accept the explanation given…The whole phenomenon cannot be accounted for on natural grounds. Many of the spirit-communicated messages were real…”

8.2.3. Sorcery’s connection to idolatry = B/C it is attempting to access/activate special knowledge or power from the spiritual (non-material realm), it is also the practice of false religion (since how again it attempts to do so, is not according to true religion – or God’s prescription – Exo 23:13).

8.2.4. Sorcery’s connection to the demonic realm = Since all false religion is demonic, all special knowledge or spiritual power made available through sorcery (in its various forms) must also be coming from demons/demonic realm (Act 16:16-18) = Demonic spirit producing the special knowledge/clairvoyance.

“It would be…completely erroneous to believe that the [early] Christians regarded the oracles [of sorcerers] as priestly trickery or morbid psychic exaltation; there can be no question of this. Like the non-Christians they believed them to be inspired, but held that the spirit who produced inspiration was not divine but a demon.” – Oesterreich (ibid)

An example of demonic involvement in both false Christian religion/idolatry and sorcery/special knowledge and healing,

“The [ancient Christians] were obliged to recognize that the demons in the temples of the oracles…uttered true prophecies and wholesome warnings and also worked cures; but the truth to tell, only in order by these apparent benefits to do the greater injury to those [people in] seeking the true God by their insinuation of false ones. [These ancient Christians] explained the fact of demons knowing the future by stating that as former servants of God they were acquainted with his designs.” – Friedlander (Possession And Exorcism)

“America’s greatest psychologist…William James’ lifelong work with [sorcerers]…convinced Dr. Oesterreich that [sorcery] is a form of possession and that the scientific study of [sorcery] …has provided authentic evidence of a paranormal nature.” – Charles San (editor, Preface to Possession And Exorcism)

“It seems clear from the literature on possession that the majority of cases have had involvement with the occult…” – Dr. M. Scott Peck (The People Of The Lie)

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = In addition to the possibility of demon possession, not repenting of sorcery (including destroying all things associated w/it – Act 19), affords you this promise from God, “But as for the…sorcerers, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.”

[1] A general term for a wide range of body-mind exercise practices, traditionally referred to as the art of “yoking” or hooking up the lower consciousness with the higher consciousness. (Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States; www/ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

[2] The Chinese art of stimulating the pathways of [spiritual] energy (14 main meridians plus branches) by puncturing, pressing, heating, using electrical current, or using herbal medicines (ibid)

Demons and Demon Possession – Part 4

The abundance of biblical and extrabiblical evidence regarding demons and demon possession should leave no doubt of their existence.

The religious (or Christian) community is not the only one who acknowledges the existence of demons and demon possession. Demons and demon possession are also confirmed in the research and observation of many within the scientific community including those in the fields of philosophy, social science, psychiatry and physics.

(Who then are the demons?)

The Bible seems to indicate that demons are cherubs or priestly angels, who because of their rebellion, forfeited not only their position as anointed guardians of God’s throne, earthly kingdom and people, but also the privilege of possessing third-dimensional, material or physical bodies.

The loss of these bodies is among the main contributing factors to the demons becoming “body-snatchers” (i.e. seeking to possess the bodies of other sentient/reasoning beings – humans).

An ancient Jewish source teaches that God killed the original serpent and gave its skin as a covering to the man and woman before their banishment from the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:21),

“The Holy One, blessed be He, took the skin which the snake sloughed off and made it into garments of skins and clothed them.” – Rabbi Ilai (Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer)

If this is true, then it is reasonable to conclude:

1) the serpent (Satan’s) skin was a priestly garment (Eze 28:13 w/Exo 28:1-41),

2) Satan and the other cherubim in the garden (possessing physical bodies) represented the first priesthood – Satan being the high priest (Eze 28:14 – “anointed…cherub” = Term used in relation to the priest; Eze 28:14, 16 – “guardian cherub” = This too can only refer to priesthood (guarding/preserving the truth, instructing A&E in holiness in the garden sanctuary – see vv17-18) since at this point, there was no sin and therefore no need for a military),

3) clothing Adam and Eve w/the serpent’s skin represented not only their atonement (through the death of their high priest), but also the transfer of the priesthood to the human race (Gen 3:15b – “he [imperfect verb, present/future – bruises] your head [fatal blow/death], you [imperfect verb, present/future – bruise] his heel [non-fatal – referring to Satan’s deception of A&E] = Could this be referring to Gen 3:21?; Replacing a serpent was a part of Christ’s atonement for us – Num 21:9 w/Joh 3:14; Consider also Num 35:25; Heb 7:23-28),

4) this is among the reasons such enmity exists between humans and the demonic realm (Gen 3:15a),

5) the woman’s excuse to God is less of a cop-out and possibly the basis for God’s leniency in sentencing when compared to Satan (Gen 3:13 = A&E were deceived by the one they should have been able to trust w/God’s word, their high priest – Jam 3:1).

The combination of losing of their physical bodies (in Eden) along with their (later) defeat by Christ (in a heavenly war), has intensified the demons’ efforts in destroying God’s kingdom and people on earth.

Correction to last week’s guesstimate as to the number of demons (Rev 12:4-12 w/Rev 5:11 –“myriads upon myriads” > 10k x 10k = 100m) = (.67x = 100m) ~ 150m/3.33 = 44.7 million demons (~1 demon per 175 people).

The best way to accomplish the demons’ mission of destruction against the church (God’s kingdom and people) is through bewitching and possessing Christians.

IOW: Christians can be 1) bewitched = under a demon’s persuasive power/listening to them and 2) possessed = under a demon’s persuasive power and physical control.

IMPORTANT POINT NOT TO MISS = We are Satan and the demonic realm’s number one target for bewitching/possession (1Pe 5:8).

How can we be demon possessed if we are already “possessed” by the Holy Spirit? B/C we can “quench the spirit” (1Th 5:19).

Since possession affords demons respite from incarceration in Hades, they will also possess non-Christians.

(Zec 9:11 w/Luk 11:14 = Place without rest; Luk 16:22-23/2Pe 2:3 = Place of fiery torment).

Demon possession usually manifests itself through mental illness.

God promised to strike people w/mental illness as punishment for their rebellion. The source of such mental illness however can be demon possession (Deu 28:28 w/Rev 18:2 w/Mat 12:43-45; e.g. 1Sa 16:14 w/18:10); e.g. Mar 5:1-9; Luk 4:31-35).

Demonic bewitching is most likely the cause of demon possession.

Bewitching is the means used by the demonic realm to take full possession. The longer a person listens, is persuaded by or carries out those sins associated with bewitching, the more control the demon is assuming of their person (1Sa 15:22-23 w/16:14 w/18:10; Joh 13:2 w/27).

Demonic bewitching is the result of practicing the sin of idolatry, sorcery or apostasy.

When a person practices the sin of idolatry, sorcery or apostasy, they are listening to/being bewitched by demons – which means they are on the path/vulnerable to demon possession. How (then) to avoid being bewitched (and ultimately demon-possessed) is by never being guilty of practicing these sins (Act 26:19 –“turn…from the power of Satan to God” = We can avoid/resist Satan’s power. To do this however means being extra vigilant to never practice those sins he uses most to place people in bondage to him – the sins of idolatry, sorcery and apostasy).

8.1. Idolatry (What is idolatry?)

8.1.1. Serving, worshipping, possessing or tolerating a false god/religion based on what you believe or do (Exo 32:1-8 w/1Co 10:7) = The Jews were guilty of idolatry either b/c: 1) they were attempting to worship the true God in a false/prohibited way (false religion = Using a carved image to represent God – Exo 20:1-5; Deu 4:15-19, 23-28; Consider also 1Sa 15:3 w/13-23 = Not following God’s exact instructions regarding worship) or 2) they were asking for a new/false god to lead them (Many pagan nations viewed cows as divine; Deu 7:25-26) (Exo 32:1 – “make for us [literally] a god” [Elohim] = Intensive plural/plural persons spoken of as one –commonly used to refer to God [Gen 1:1], but also used in Scripture to refer to false gods [Exo 20:3]).

“Since God has prescribed to us how He would be worshipped by us, whenever we turn away in the very smallest degree from this rule, we make to ourselves other gods and degrade Him from His rightful place.” – G.K. Beale (What Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology Of Idolatry)

Its connection to the demonic realm (Prt 1): (Exo 32:1-8 w/Lev 17:7 and Deu 32:16-17, 21a and Psa 106:36-38; Psa 135:15-18 – “become like them” = demon-possessed).

Ancient Jewish tradition teaches that when Aaron was crafting the people’s gold into an image for the people, “Satan entered it, and the likeness of [a] calf came out of it.” (Targum, Ps.-J., Exo 32:24). Additionally, Satan is portrayed as “in the middle” of the idol, “leaping and jumping before the people” (Targum, Ps.-J, Exo 32:18-19) as the basis for their (imitative) sporting before it (Exo 32:6, 19 – “the people…rose up to play…they were dancing”). Within this same tradition, there is also evidence pointing to demon possession as the consequence of such idolatrous actions. Two other ancient sources add the words, “they shall be afflicted by evil spirits” (Targum Onqelos), and “they will be possessed by evil spirits” (Targum Neofiti), to the Deuteronomy 32:17 statement (“they sacrificed to demons”).

Commenting on this, G.K. Beale writes,

“The link would appear to be that those who worshipped and committed themselves to demons would be possessed by those demonic spirits, and such possession would change their very beings [Psa 135:18]…This is a paramount example of the lex talionis notion of the Old Testament – an eye for an eye. People are punished by means of their own sin [they worship the demonic and so become demonic]…The principle for them and for us is [then]: we resemble what we revere, either for ruin or for restoration.” (ibid)

Its connection to the demonic realm (Prt 2): (1Co 10:16-21)

“Paul interprets sacrifices to idols to also be sacrifices to demons, which necessarily entails ‘becoming a sharer in demons,’ who indwell the idol. This is true not only of Gentile idolatry but also of Israel’s idolatry in the wilderness [Exo 32], since he had the latter in mind only a few verses earlier (10:5-11), which, in fact, serves as part of the basis for making the deduction about not falling into the temptation of idolatry and ‘fleeing from idolatry’. Paul’s discussion here is parallel with [ancient Jewish] traditions that see the activity of Satan working through the golden calf idol to influence [think bewitch] Israel.” – G.K. Beale (ibid)

Modern examples: All false religions (Buddhism, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, Atheism, Evangelicalism, etc.)

Many Christians believe that humanity’s idolatrous attempt with regard to the Tower of Babel and God’s dispersing judgment in Genesis 11 is ultimately what led to the various different demonic and false religions of the earth:

“At the Tower of Babel, the concept of the unity and absoluteness of God had begun to be lost. When the people were dispersed at Babel, they would have taken with them a hybrid truth of the living God mixed with the twisted and distorted truth of that revelation about him. The loss of a unified language led to the loss of unified religion; every people and nation now deviated to worship its own national god. At Babel monotheism degenerated into animism, sorcery, magic, and polytheism. The pure revelation of God had been generally lost, corrupted, and perverted by sin, leading to religious idolatry and giving rise to religious pluralism.” – Simon Turpin (“Religion: What Is It, Where Did It Come from and How Does the Bible View It?”, AIG)

BTW: Ancient Jewish tradition also teaches that Nimrod (the architect and GC of the Tower of Babel) inherited Adam’s serpent suit. If this is true, it would lend further support to Babel as an idolatrous event since it strongly implies Nimrod’s oversight to be priestly in nature.

8.1.2. Embracing a false gospel (Gal 1:6 = Notice you are “deserting God” [meaning for a different god] when you adhere to a “different gospel” – i.e. you are committing idolatry; See also 1Pe 4:3)

Its connection to the demonic realm: (Gal 1:6 w/Gal 3:1; 1Ti 4:1-2).

Modern examples: The evangelical gospel of obedience as nice but not ultimately necessary (Gen 3:1-4 = Notice, the false gospel used by Satan and the demonic realm to bewitch Adam and Eve was also a gospel promising life without the need for obedience).

8.1.3. Being sexually active/intimate with someone outside the covenant community of God’s people (sexual idolatry) (1Co 6:13-20, 10:8 w/14 w/Num 25:1-2, 9).

Its connection to the demonic realm: (2Co 6:14-16)

Modern examples: Christians kissing, having sex w/ or marrying pagans (false Christians [Roman Catholics, evangelicals, etc], atheists, agnostics, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: Number one reason to flee idolatry (false gods/religion, gospel or sexual activity w/pagans) = demonic possession

Demons and Demon Possession – Part 3

The abundance of biblical and extrabiblical evidence regarding demons and demon possession should leave no doubt of their existence.

The religious (or Christian) community is not the only one who acknowledges the existence of demons and demon possession. Demons and demon possession are also confirmed in the research and observation of many within the scientific community including those in the fields of philosophy, social science, psychiatry and physics.

(Who then are the demons?)

The Bible seems to indicate that demons are cherubs or military-grade angels, who because of their rebellion, forfeited not only their position as guardians of God’s throne, earthly kingdom and people, but also the privilege of possessing third-dimensional, material or physical bodies.

(Eze 28:13-18; Gen 3:1-6, 13-15) = Both texts contain evidence that strongly suggests Satan and the other cherubim at one time possessed third-dimensional, material or physical bodies. The loss of these bodies is among the main contributing factors to the demons becoming “body-snatchers” (i.e. seeking to possess the bodies of other sentient/reasoning beings – humans).

The combination of losing of their physical bodies (in Eden) along with their (later) defeat by Christ (in a heavenly war), has intensified the demons’ efforts in destroying God’s kingdom and people on earth.

(Rev 12:4-12 w/Rev 5:11) = 100,000,000/3.333 = 30 million demons have been quarantined to the same fourth dimensional space occupied by earth in the third dimension – the place Scripture refers to as “Sheol”, “Hades”, “the pit”, “Abaddon” or “the abyss”. And their mission? – To take as many people to Hell with them as they can.

The best way to accomplish the demons’ mission of destruction against the church (God’s kingdom and people) is through bewitching and possessing Christians.

IOW: Christians can be:

1) bewitched = under a demon’s persuasive power/listening to them (Gal 3:1; Joh 13:1-2; 1Ti 4:1; 2Co 11:3 w/13-15)

2) possessed = under a demon’s persuasive power and physical control (Joh 13:26-27 w/Luk 22:3).

IMPORTANT POINT NOT TO MISS = We are Satan and the demonic realm’s number one target for bewitching/possession (1Pe 5:8).

What about the indwelling Spirit? How can a Christian be possessed by a demon when he is already “possessed” by the Holy Spirit?

(Gal 3:5; Act 2:38; 2Co 6:14-16; 1Joh 4:4; 5:18; Col 1:13) = These texts only prove that we are possessed by the Spirit (and therefore protected from the demonic realm) when we are listening to/being led by the Spirit (Hence Gal 5:16). If we however, choose to listen to the demonic realm – which means also, no longer listening to the will of the Spirit, He (and Christ) will leave us (i.e. their presence) will depart – leaving us open to the possibility of demonic possession (1Sa 16:14; Psa 51:11; Eph 4:30).

Since possession affords demons respite from incarceration in Hades, they will also possess non-Christians.

(Zec 9:11 w/Luk 11:14 = Place without rest; Luk 16:22-23/2Pe 2:3 = Place of fiery torment).

Excerpt from an eighteenth century pastor’s account of an exorcism of a demon-possessed woman offers some anecdotal support,

“In the morning, towards 11 o’clock this possessed woman came at my request, but not willingly, into the church of the place….When I addressed him in the name of Jesus, [the demon] cried out, ‘Oh, I burn, I burn! Oh, what torture! What torture!”

The demon’s response seems to intimate leaving the woman would mean going back to a place of burning or torture (Luk 8:31).

Demon possession can manifest itself through mental illness.

God promised to strike people w/mental illness as punishment for their rebellion. The source of such mental illness however can be demon possession (Deu 28:28 w/Rev 18:2 w/Mat 12:43-45 = Jerusalem is filled w/mentally ill/demon-possessed people; e.g. 1Sa 16:14 w/18:10).

Much of what is diagnosed as a “disorder” within the psychological community today, should be identified as demon possession.

“The book affording to us …our earliest glimpse of the states called ‘possession’ is the New Testament. Bible stories often give, in fact, an accurate picture of these states…Comparing these [NT] stories with accounts of the phenomena of possession in later times, we find what may be described as the perfect similarity of the facts so exactly with what we know of these states from the point of view of present-day psychology, that it is impossible to avoid the impression that we are dealing with a tradition that is veracious (or accurate) – Oesterreich

Though not limited to these cases, the following biblical examples make this clear based on their agreement w/the diagnostic criteria as presented in the DSM-V (Diagnostic Statistical Manual – 5th edition):

6.1. (Mar 5:1-9) = Given the criteria, such persons today would be diagnosed as suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (or Multiple Personality Disorder).

Biblical analysis of relevant criteria

(DSM-V): “Over 70% of outpatients with [DID] have attempted suicide; multiple attempts are common, and other injurious behavior is frequent (3 – “He lived among the tombs” = The place of the dead; 5 – “he was always…cutting himself with stones” = Attempting suicide or frequently injuring himself)…[There is a] disruption of identity characterized by two or more distinct personality states (The demon-possessed man refers to himself in both the singular [9a – “My name is”] and the plural [9b – “we are many”]), which may be described in some cultures as an experience of possession.

The disruption in identity involves marked discontinuity in sense of self and sense of agency , accompanied by related alterations in behavior, consciousness, memory, perception, cognition, and/or sensory-motor functioning (4 – “he had often been bound in shackles and chains but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke shackles in pieces” = his behavior is out of control versus post-exorcism he is “sitting…clothed and in his right mind” [verse 15]).

These signs or symptoms may be observed by others or reported by the individual (3, 4 – “And no one could bind him anymore…for he had often been bound = Implies people were aware of/had observed this man’s adverse behavior).

The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (3 –“He lived among the tombs”, 5- “Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself”; Luk 8:27 adds that he wore no clothes nor lived in a house = Significant impairment/distress in re: to social functioning).

The symptoms are not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance or another medical condition (1 – “Jesus met a man with an unclean spirit” = The man’s symptoms [mental illness] is the attributable to demon possession).”

“Reviewing the series of cases [of demon possession]…their first and most striking characteristic (or external sign) is that the patient’s organism appears to be invaded by a new personality; it is governed by a strange soul. [These] classic cases of double (or dual) personality also attest to a change in countenance.” – Oesterreich

6.2. (Luk 4:31-35) = Given the criteria, such persons today would be diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder (or Manic Depression Disorder)

Biblical analysis of relevant criteria

(DSM-V): “A distinct period of abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood accompanied by grandiose behavior (34 – “Ha!” [Grk. “eh- ah”] = Interjection denoting major offense – e.g. “how dare you!”),

excessive or excessively loud talk (33b, 34 – “And he cried out with a loud voice [He screamed], ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”),

distracted and racing thoughts of danger (24 – “’Have you come to destroy us?”),

uncharacteristic of the individual and observable to others (The demon-possessed man was silent or exhibiting behavior very different from what follows Jesus’ teaching. It is safe to assume that this behavior was not normal or expected in relation to this individual given that had it been, he most certainly would not been allowed in the synagogue),

not attributed to the physiological effects of a substance or medical condition (33a – “In the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon” = The man’s symptoms [mental illness] is the attributable to demon possession).”

Consider the striking similarities between the demon-possessed man of Mark 1 and a present day case of bipolarism/manic -depressive person:

“Mary had been diagnosed by psychiatrists as a manic-depressive. As soon as counselors began to put their finger on the real issue (which turned out to be adultery with her next-door neighbor), Mary began to howl and cry and scream at the top of her lungs. Besides inarticulate sobbing, she cried, ‘Leave me alone; leave me alone!’. In the past Mary had successfully warded off all attempts by her parents and others to discover the reasons for her distress by driving them away.”

“The invasion of the organism [in demon possession] is [also] manifested [in a] new voice [that] does not speak to the spirit of the normal… individual. Even if [this person] is described as good and irreproachable (consider again the quiet and faithful synagogue-attending man of Luke’s Gospel), the words uttered…generally betray a coarse…attitude, fundamentally opposed to all accepted ethical and religious ideas (consider it is Jesus’ religious teaching that sparks the synagogue man’s outrage).” – Oesterreich

So then, the evidence/symptoms surrounding at least some forms of mental illness suggest demon possession as the likely cause. As such, mental illness also functions as possible identity marker for this diagnosis: people suffering from mental illness may be demon-possessed people.

Demonic bewitching is most likely the cause of demon possession.

Bewitching is the means used by the demonic realm to take full possession. The longer a person listens, is persuaded by or carries out those sins associated with bewitching in Scripture, the more control the demon is assuming of their person (1Sa 15:22-23 – idolatry – listening to demons w/1Sa 16:14 w/18:10; Joh 13:2 w/27).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = What specific sins do the Scriptures associate with demonic bewitching?

Demons and Demon Possession – Part 2

The abundance of biblical and extrabiblical evidence regarding demons and demon possession should leave no doubt of their existence.

The religious (or Christian) community is not the only one who acknowledges the existence of demons and demon possession. Demons and demon possession are also confirmed in the research and observation of many within the scientific community including those in the fields of philosophy, social science, psychiatry and physics. Thousands of cases of demon possession have been recorded going back to antiquity including almost every known human culture citing this supernatural phenomenon as the only possible diagnosis (philosopher and social scientist, Dr. Traugott Oesterreich, psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Gallagher). The (relatively) recent “discovery” of the fourth dimension has caused many physicists to reject their former materialist religion (i.e. only the material realm or third dimension exists), positing that the fourth dimension (a very non-material realm) may be the place consciousness (or the spirit) enters upon death (theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku). Additionally, they believe there is a causal relationship between this dimension/realm and our own (e.g. theoretical physicist, Dr. Albert Einstein).

(Who then are the demons?)

The Bible seems to indicate that demons are cherubs or military-grade angels, who because of their rebellion, forfeited not only their position as guardians of God’s throne, earthly kingdom and people, but also the privilege of possessing third-dimensional, material or physical bodies.

(Eze 28:13-18; Gen 3:1-6, 13-15) = Both texts contain evidence that strongly suggests Satan and the other cherubim at one time possessed third-dimensional, material or physical bodies. The loss of these bodies is among the main contributing factors to the demons becoming “body-snatchers” (i.e. seeking to possess the bodies of other sentient/reasoning beings – humans).

The combination of losing of their physical bodies (in Eden) along with their (later) defeat by Christ (in a heavenly war), has intensified the demons’ efforts in destroying God’s kingdom and people on earth.

3.1. The demon population (i.e. those cherubim who supported Satan in his rebellion against God in Eden – or at the historic Fall of mankind, and therefore were among those who lost their physical or material bodies in this world/the third-dimension), represent one-third of the total angels.

(Rev 12:1-4) = The “woman” in John’s vision refers to Israel. Hence the mention of “a crown of twelve stars.” The “great dragon” is Satan who – along w/a “third of the stars” are waiting to “devour”/destroy the woman’s child at his birth – a reference to Christ’s birth or first advent and earthly ministry. The reason the “third of the stars” is mentioned as having been “swept down” by the dragon/Satan’s tail is b/c they represent the number of angels in support of Satan at the time of his rebellion against God in the garden of Eden. “Stars” as a metaphor for Israel and angels is used elsewhere in Scripture (Gen 37:9; Job 38:7)

3.2. Satan along w/his fellow fallen angels (or demons) would later be defeated in a heavenly war w/Christ’s armies that would not only quarantine them to the same fourth dimensional space occupied by the earth (in the third dimension), but intensify their efforts to destroy God’s kingdom and people.

(Rev 12:7-12) = Based on the details included in this portion of John’s vision (most esp. those found in verses 10 and 11), the “war [that] arose in heaven” took place sometime after Christ’s ascension back to heaven. Christ’s victory at the cross was precipitated by a bold and desperate attempt by “the dragon and his angels” against the citadel of heaven itself. However, Christ’s armies – led by “Michael and his angels”, were too powerful and the demons “defeated” yet again (According to DSS11Q13, Jesus/Melchizedek was also in the fight – Luk 10:18). The resulting penalty was permanent quarantine on the earth (again verse 9). Seeing that Satan and the demons now reside only in the spiritual realm, means that what is being communicated by “thrown down to the earth”, is rather “thrown down [to the same fourth dimensional space occupied by]… the earth [in the third dimension]” – the place Scripture refers to as “Sheol”, “Hades”, “the pit”, “Abaddon” or “the abyss” (Gen 37:35; Job 26:6; Job 28:22; Job 33:28-30; Psa 16:10; Psa 28:1; Psa 30:3, 9; Psa 49:9; Psa 88:11; Pro 15:11; Pro 27:20; Isa 14:13-15; Isa 38:18; Eze 26:20; Eze 32:18, 23-25, 29-30; Jon 2:1-6; Mat 11:23 w/Luk 10:15; Luk 8:31; Act 2:27 [Psa 16:10]; Rev 1:8 w/6:8 w/20:13-14; Rev 9:1-11; Rev 20:3//Dan 10:13 w/Gen 28:12; This is also the dwelling place of the wicked dead – Luk 16:22-23) . Prior to this, Satan/demons did enjoy at least limited access to heaven (e.g. Job 1:6; 2Ch 18:18-21). Such geographical sanctions – along w/what their prior defeats communicate regarding their future, has intensified Satan and the demonic realm’s efforts to destroy God’s kingdom (on earth) and people. In other words, to take as many to Hell with them as they can (again verse 12).

The best way to accomplish the demons’ mission of destruction against the church (God’s kingdom and people) is through bewitching and possessing Christians.

IOW: Christians can be 1) bewitched = under a demon’s persuasive power/listening to them (Gal 3:1 – “bewitched” w/Gal 1:8 [also Peter and Barnabas, 2:11-13]; Joh 13:1-2; 1Ti 4:1; 1Th 3:5; Consider also Joh 8:43-44; 1Jo 3:7-10; 2Co 11:3 w/13-15) and 2) possessed = under a demon’s persuasive power and physical control (Joh 13:26-27 w/Luk 22:3; Consider also Joh 6:70; Mat 16:21-23). IMPORTANT POINT NOT TO MISS = We are Satan and the demonic realm’s number one target for bewitching/possession (1Pe 5:8) = The “someone” is a Christian according to verse (9).

Since possession affords demons respite from incarceration in Hades, they will also possess non-Christians.

According to Scripture, the fourth dimension of “Sheol”, “the pit” –or “Hades” is not a comfortable realm to exist in. It therefore makes sense that the demons would attempt to remove themselves from there through commandeering the bodies of any human being who is vulnerable and the space is available (Zec 9:11 w/Luk 11:24 w/2Co 5:1-4 = The physical bodies we possess [and the demons once possessed] are a “home” that is desired over “being found naked” or dwelling in the “waterless place/pit” of Sheol/Hades. This most likely b/c it is a place of torment – again Luk 16:22-23; Hence the reason – Luk 8:31; Consider also 2Pe 2:3 – “Tartarus” = Fiery mythological prison for wicked spirits – including demons).

Demons and Demon Possession – Part 1

The abundance of biblical and extrabiblical evidence regarding demons and demon possession should leave no doubt of their existence.

1.1. Scripture refers to demons or demon possession more than 100 times as a supernatural phenomenon existing in – and experienced by, humans all over the world since its creation (e.g. Luk 8:26-30; Job 1:6-9 = Job is considered to be one of the earliest books in the Bible, the events therein taking place shortly after the flood [Job 22:16] possibly before Abraham based on how long Job lived [Job 42:10-17]. Satan’s intel and influence is however already global [“going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it” = Satan had already travelled the entire planet and was keenly aware of who and where its humans were – including Job]. Hence the reason God can ask the question [“Have you considered my servant Job?”] and receive such a provocative answer [“Does Job fear God for no reason?”]).

1.2. The evidence supporting not only the existence of the demonic realm, but also their activity was so well-known by the time of the apostle Paul that he viewed them and their actions as no mystery (2Co 2:11).

1.3. Dr. Oesterreich’s seminal work, Possession And Exorcism Among Primitive Races, In Antiquity, The Middle Ages And Modern Times is a vast repository of such evidence. Though himself not a Christian, the late Berlin professor (early 20th century) catalogues not only the reports of demons and their possession on practically every continent, in every country and across every known human culture, but also how these cases perfectly align with the biblical accounts – most especially those in relation to Jesus and the Gospels.

Commenting on this connection, Causeway Books editor, Charles Sans states,

“For good or ill, every one of us, whether a professing Christian or not, because we live in a civilization founded on Christianity, must come to terms with the indubitable fact, which cannot be gainsaid or interpreted away, that the Jesus of the Gospels is an Exorcist.”

It is worth mentioning that Oesterreich’s book was also the basis for William Blatty’s highly provocative novel and film, The Exorcist (1973).

1.4. Former ministers and missionaries have also bore witness to personal experience w/spiritual beings from another realm of existence – one inhabited by demons. The late American pastor and writer, Arthur Pink was a spiritist (19th century cult committed to communication w/the spirit realm) before his conversion and spoke extensively of his experiences during that time,

“Many were attracted to the occult simply by curiosity and then by a desire to investigate the proof it offered of the existence of the spirit world. Nearly every spiritist I have met, began being a blank unbeliever in its phenomena. Then when they see its phenomena is real, they accept the explanation given…The whole phenomenon cannot be accounted for on natural grounds. Many of the spirit-communicated messages were real, but they came not from the dead but from demons impersonating the departed.”

The biography of the late missionary G. Whitfield Guinness, records what he and others witnessed when attending a seance as students at Cambridge,

“For about twenty minutes nothing in particular happened. The table round which they were seated gave no response to the questions put to it and they were getting distinctly tired. [Then] the table began to move a little, round and round, then rolled right over and across the room. Aroused to interest, the group began to ply it with questions – two bangs on the floor meant ‘No’, and three, ‘Yes’. One asked whether his brother had passed an examination. The table gave the right answer. Another wanted to know the number of books on a bookshelf over which a curtain was hanging. The table said forty-nine, which proved to be exactly right. For almost an hour they went on showering questions, all of which were correctly answered. [Later] as a medical missionary in China, Guinness would have more abundant evidence of the [existence] of evil spirits.”

1.5. Recent discoveries and developments within the area of quantum physics and the existence of a 4th dimension has also caused the scientific community to begin seriously questioning their Enlightenment-based religion of Materialism (i.e. There is no existence outside the material universe/3rd dimensional realm). A good example of this would be Harvard trained physicist and professor of theoretical physics at City College in New York, Dr. Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku has written extensively about the 4th dimension as the place of heaven – or what religion refers to as the spiritual realm, since: 1) this is a realm whose inhabitants wb invisible to those in the 3rd dimension (think spirits) though existing in the same space (e.g. Dr. Kaku’s book, The Future Of Humanity; Also see Edwin’s Abbott’s fictional novel Flatland or Carl Sagan’s 4th dimensional explanation inspired by it- https://youtu.be/UnURElCzGc0), 2) things in this realm have the ability to pass through solid objects in the 3rd dimension (e.g. anti-electrons passing through lead; See also Joh 20:19, 26).

 

1.6. Modern Psychiatry/Psychology is also (begrudgingly) beginning to admit the existence of the demonic as the source of some people’s problems. Spearheading this current change in opinion, is another Ivy-League trained doctor, psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at both New York Medical College and Columbia University, Dr. Richard Gallagher. Gallagher is considered by many in his field, its first “Demon Inquisitor”. This because of the hundreds of cases where in his professional and medical opinion, demon possession was the most accurate diagnosis. He has even written a book, Demonic Foes, A Psychiatrist Investigates Demonic Possession In The Modern United States.

CNN’s recent op-ed on Gallagher states that,

“Fighting Satan’s minions wasn’t part of Gallagher’s career plan while he was studying medicine at Yale. He knew about biblical accounts of demonic possession but thought they were an ancient culture’s attempt to grapple with mental disorders like epilepsy. He proudly calls himself a ‘man of science.’ Yet today, Gallagher has become something else: the go-to guy for a sprawling network of exorcists in the United States. He says demonic possession is real. He’s seen the evidence: victims suddenly speaking perfect Latin; sacred objects flying off shelves; people displaying ‘hidden knowledge’ or secrets about people that they could not have possibly have known. ‘There was one woman who was like 90 pounds soaking wet. She threw a Lutheran deacon who was about 200 pounds across the room,’ he says. ‘That’s not psychiatry. That’s beyond psychiatry.’ Gallagher calls himself a ‘consultant’ on demonic possessions. For the past 25 years, he has helped clergy distinguish between mental illness and what he calls ‘the real thing.’ He estimates that he’s seen more cases of possession than any other physician in the world.”

As a fitting capstone quote to the previous two points, the “Father Of American Psychology” and famous Harvard professor, Dr. William James prophetically stated at the end of the 19th century,

“The refusal of modern ‘enlightenment’ to treat ‘possession’ as a hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of the massive human tradition based on concrete experience in its favor, has always seemed to me a curious example of the power of fashion in things scientific [i.e. science is often skewed in the direction of what is popular/fashionable at the time versus what is actually true – e.g. evolution, global warming, Whole Foods]. That the demon theory will have its innings again is to my mind absolutely certain.”

(Who then are these malevolent spirits?)

The Bible seems to indicate that demons are cherubs or military-grade angels, who because of their rebellion, forfeited not only their position as guardians of God’s throne, earthly kingdom and people, but also the privilege of possessing third-dimensional, material or physical bodies.

2.1. Cherubim are the name given to those angels associated w/warfare and the protection of God’s most precious possessions: His throne in Heaven, Zion (His kingdom on earth) and those inheriting salvation (Psa 18:1-10 w/2Sa 22:11, 80:1, 90:1; Consider also Exo 25:18-19, 26:31; Cherubs are also the sword-bearing guardians of Eden after the Fall – Gen 3:24; The archangel Michael is most likely a cherub given his activity of protecting God’s people – Jud 1:9; Dan 8:16 w/9:21-23 w/10:11-13, 21, 12:1; The “watchers” of Daniel’s prophecy are likewise cherubim given what this term implies [those “watching” or protecting God’s kingdom and people] – See the context of Dan 4:17; Satan and his angels/demons are described as going to war– something once more associated w/cherubim – Rev 12:7; Satan himself is identified as the supreme “guardian cherub” – Eze 28:14; In this light consider also Mat 18:10).

2.2. As a means to helping them accomplish their mission, it stands to reason that they may have also been furnished w/their own third-dimensional, material or physical bodies. At the very least, this seems to be the case w/Satan based on what else we are told about his time in the Garden of Eden (Eze 28:13-18) = Satan appears to possess a physical form until he is put to death/his physical form is destroyed because of his rebellion. If this is not the case, then what does God mean when He says, “I destroyed you, O guardian cherub”? or “I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you and I turned you to ashes on the earth”? Since spiritual beings are eternal, what else could it be referring to except a prior physical form he possessed – as described in verse 13. If Satan once possessed a third-dimensional/physical form as part of his guardian role/station, then it is only logical to conclude all cherubs at one time did as well. It is also logical – and biblical, to conclude that like Adam, Satan as the “anointed (or representative) guardian cherub”- and first of his kind (See Isa 14:12-14 – “O Day Star, son of Dawn” = Literally the beginning of something new – 2Pe 1:17-19; Rev 2:26-28, 22:16; Job 38:6-7), was (therefore) the federal head of his race whose fall into sin meant the death/forfeiture of physical bodies for the rest of his race (cherubim) – most especially those who followed him in his rebellion (i.e. the other angels/demons).

2.3. The record of the Fall in Genesis also presents a compelling case for cherubim at one time possessing third-dimensional, material or physical bodies (Gen 3:1-6, 13-15) = Scripture later identifies the “serpent” in this account w/Satan (Rev 12:9, 14-15, 20:2). Satan as the antagonist is also alluded to in the prophecy of verse 15 (“enmity between you and the woman” = Israel/people of God; “her offspring” = Christ/people of God; “your offspring” = The demons [Rev 12:4]; “he shall bruise the head” = Jesus’ fatal blow to Satan and his kingdom accomplished thru his earthly ministry [Luk 10:18; Heb 2:14]; “you shall bruise his heel” = Satan’s ability to hurt Christ but not defeat Him [Joh 13:27]). Notice however, that the “serpent” in Genesis 3 is a third-dimensional, material or physical creature that Adam and Eve can see (versus a 4th dimensional, spiritual creature invisible to them). He is a “beast of the field… that the Lord God had made” – v1). Notice also, that this serpent is referred to as “he” (v2) versus “it” – which implies personhood/sentience (versus being simply an animal which wb referred to as “it”). Lastly, notice that such sentience or rational capabilities are confirmed by the fact that this “serpent” is having a conversation w/the woman (even convincing her to sin!). This is further supported by the word that is used to describe the “serpent” in verse 1 (“crafty” = able to reason/discern, shrewd or wise – e.g. LXX Mat 7:24). It is only after the Fall (as punishment), that this rational creature becomes the snake we know today (“on your belly you shall go”; “livestock” driven by instinct, no longer possessing sentient/rational abilities). Such evidence makes a compelling case for the following: the “serpent” of Genesis 3 is (or was) the description of cherubim when they possessed third-dimensional, material or physical bodies. This may imply they resembled a humanoid form of a snake/dragon/lizard (Think Sleestak from Land Of The Lost, or the Gorn from Star Trek). Due however to Satan’s rebellion, such bodies were lost (i.e. the spirit of the angels in them were permanently separated from them; they “died” in re: to third dimension existence). God then took that physical form and created a “cursed” (or “crooked” – Isa 27:1) version (one crawling on its belly) as a perpetual reminder of what they had done. This seems to be the only logical conclusion given that: 1) outside of God performing a miracle (e.g. Balaam’s donkey), animals cannot be possessed for the purpose of communication, 2) the serpents created by God are (once more) sentient (something only possible if possessed by a spiritual being – i.e. it takes a spirit to have sentience. Hence the reason Scripture teaches that animals do not have spirits but simply souls/“life-force” [ruah versus nephesh]; Job 12:7-10). Finally, it sb mentioned that one of the Hebrew words for angel is the word “seraph”, which can also be translated as “serpent” (Deu 8:15 w/Isa 6:2; See also Luk 10:17-19).

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = The loss of the cherubim’s third-dimensional, material or physical bodies is among the contributing factors to these malevolent spirits becoming “body-snatchers” (i.e. possessing the bodies of other sentient beings – humans).

Spiritual Doubt

The exchange between Jesus and John the Baptist’s disciples found in the above verses present us with a textbook case of spiritual doubt. In it, we find everything we need to know about this malady including its causes and cure.

(DEFINITION) spiritual doubt (SD) = To lack confidence or trust in relation to God (His person and ways) or the things of God (Our Christian Faith).

What we need to know:

Even the best Christians are afflicted (at times) w/(SD)

(2-3) = John – as in John the Baptist is exhibiting doubt by his question. How we know that to be the case: b/c of his prior testimony regarding Jesus (Joh 1:29, 34). John’s question is therefore NOT for the purpose of discovery but rather to shore up present doubt. As a means to destroying any thought that John was a lightweight or flake b/c of such doubt, Jesus reminds the crowds as to John’s credentials in the latter verses (7-11a) = John was a prophet (9), the prophesied messenger to Messiah (10-11 w/Mal 3:1) and the greatest follower of God in all of human history (11, better than Noah, Abraham, David, Moses, all the other prophets, etc.) -YET he too suffered (at times) w/doubt. Other examples of saints doubting:

1.1. David and the Psalmists (“How long, O’ Lord?” – David = Psa 6:1-3, 13:1-2; the authors of Psalms 74 and 94 = Psa 74:1-10, 94:1-7).

1.2. The Apostles (Mat 28:16-17)

*Could this be the reason Jude says what he does (Jud 1:22)?

(Though it is something that affects/afflicts even the strongest/best Christians),

(SD) is something that must be quickly remedied/removed when it comes up – otherwise it will lead to sin (or offenses against Christ).

Hence the reason Jesus says what He does in (6 – “offended by Me”) = Resentment leading to rebellion (e.g. Gen 3:1-5) = The serpent accomplishes his mission of getting Eve not only to doubt God’s goodness, but also to resent Him for keeping from her and Adam what she now believes they both need to be happy. The result is rebellion against God.

Before we can remedy/remove (SD), we must know what causes it.

There are three things that cause spiritual doubt:

3.1. Adverse/undesirable circumstances which produce adverse/undesirable feelings

(2 – “in prison”) = John had been imprisoned by Herod for speaking against his affair w/his brother’s wife. It would also lead to his death – something he probably suspected given this was Herod’s desire at the time of his imprisonment (Mat 14:3-5). Adverse/Undesirable things happening in our lives (like being thrown in prison), often produce the adverse/undesirable feelings of doubt or ill-confidence in our present course or commitments. Every human being who has lived long enough has experienced this. It is an axiomatic fact. With certainty then, one of the reasons John was doubting was due to this very common phenomena: adverse circumstances producing adverse feelings – including the adverse feeling of doubt – (“Is this the right course? Should I continue in my commitment to this/that?).

3.2. Listening to the wrong people or receiving the wrong information (i.e. bad intel)

Though the text is not explicit on this point, we can be pretty confident that John was listening to the wrong people – possibly the crowds who were wrestling w/their own doubts (Mat 16:13-14; Mar 6:3), or his disciples. The latter of these two options can (at the very least) be inferred based on Jesus’ most recent correction of them (Mat 9:14-17). They obviously possessed their own doubts in relation to Jesus and His ministry and were the ones most in John’s ear (especially during his confinement). What then John was making his current assessments on (and as a result doubting Jesus) was bad intel. And bad intel (or company) corrupts – or leads to doubting (e.g. 1Co 15:12, 33-34).

3.3. Not knowing or reflecting on the facts.

(4-5) = It is not clear whether John already knew what Jesus tells him or it was meant to function as a reminder of the facts. What is clear however, is that IF Jesus had to tell him these things (actions all related or pointing to the One Who wb Messiah), THEN it is b/c they were NOT readily being put in the forefront of John’s mind. And the result is again, doubt. This is especially true when we are in the midst of trials (as John was). Not having God’s Word present in our minds – either b/c we don’t know it – or b/c we are just too lazy to take the time to pull it up and reflect on it, is a sure fire way to fester spiritual doubt.

The cure or remedy for (SD) (then) is to reverse/remove the above causes.

We do this in the following three ways:

4.1. Stop listening to your feelings.

Feelings cannot think – and therefore have no ability to discern truth. God did not give them for that purpose (i.e. as a means to discern truth). That ability has been given to our minds. People who operate (make decisions as to what is right and what is wrong; what to trust and who to doubt) based on their feelings will suffer the same fate as animals since they are acting just like them. Animals are enslaved, hunted and ultimately destroyed b/c they lack the ability to think, operating instead on only instinct/feelings (Jud 1:10).

4.2. Consider your sources

Anytime we face spiritual doubt, we need to be asking ourselves, “who have I been listening to?” Or, “who have I been hanging out with?” By determining the answer to those two questions, you can tell not only where a person’s doubt is coming from – but (also) predict its presence in the future (again, 1Co 15:33!; also Pro 13:20)

4.3. Know and recall the truth about God and the facts found in His Word.

We have great examples of this practice w/David and the Psalmists mentioned earlier. Their response to their own doubts was self-counsel in the truth about God and facts from His Word (Psa 6:8-10, 13:3-6; Psa 74:12-17, 94:8-15)

This practice is also mentioned in the Psalms as the means to keeping confident and committed (Psa 119:105 = It removes the darkness of doubt and confusion).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: Refusing to do the work (prescribed by God’s Word) to remedy (SD) is itself rebellion/sin (Jam 1:5-8 = We are considered by God to be rebellious people – “unstable in all [our] ways”). So shore it up the moment it arises!

Tithing

As the means to maintaining our new covenant relationship w/Christ, God’s people are called to faithfully obey all those precepts and practices established by God’s Word – including those established in the Old Testament (Mat 5:17-18; 1Co 7:19; 2Ti 3:15-16; 2Th 2:15; 1Co 11:2). Relaxing even the least of these, will ensure (according to our Lord and Savior) that we are found wanting on Judgment Day and condemned as “workers of lawlessness” (Mat 5:19-20, 7:21-23)[1]. It is with this understanding then, that the true Christian becomes teachable to all God’s Word has to say about the practice of tithing:

General Knowledge:

1.1. The practice of tithing goes back to the beginning of man’s creation and relationship w/God (or Christ) (e.g. Cain and Abel, the children of Adam and Eve – Gen 4:3-4; Abraham – Gen 14:17-20 w/Heb 7:5-9, 20 = Mel was Christ)

1.2. Jesus confirmed the continued practice of tithing during His earthly ministry (Mat 23:23).

1.3. Faithfulness to pay the tithe is part of the vows a person takes in order to secure God as their God – i.e. Divine Provider, Protector and Savior (Gen 28:20-22; Psa 116:12-14, 18; Psa 50:14; Jon 2:9; Deu 8:11-18; This is no doubt what Paul is referring to in 2Co 8:5).

1.4. Failure to tithe is therefore considered robbing God and results in a forfeiture of His blessings (as Provider/Protector/Savior – Mal 3:8-18).

1.5. Failure to properly tithe was the initial sin of Cain, the reason God w/held His blessing and Cain became depressed (Gen 4:3-5).

“If anyone does not tithe everything, let the curse which God inflicted upon Cain for not rightly tithing be heaped upon him.” – Council of Seville (6th century)

1.6. Unfaithfulness in relation to the tithe may be a “gateway sin” to more serious sins (Gen 4:6-7).

“Whoever will not give the tithe appropriates property that does not belong to him. If the poor die of hunger, he is guilty of their murder and will have to answer before God’s judgment seat as a murderer; he has taken that which God has set aside for the poor and kept it for himself – 4th century sermon (Tithing In The Early Church, Lukas Vischer)

1.7. The largest part of the tithe is to be used to support the teaching pastors who are to (then) tithe on what is given to them (Num 18:21-27).

1.8. Part of the tithe, however, is to also be used to care for God’s house and caring for the poor (Deu 14:22-28; Amos 4:4; Neh 10:38-39).

1.9. Besides the tithe, God’s people sb setting aside portions of their surplus as gleanings/free-will/thank offerings for special needs in their local covenant community, other covenant communities – or for advancing the kingdom thru missions as further demonstration of their thankfulness to God and submission to the gospel (Exo 35:29, 36:3; Lev 7:11-16, 19:9-11, 23:38; 2Ch 29:31; Psa 50:14, 24, 56:12, 107:22, 116:17; Jer 33:11; 2Co 8:1-13, 9:1-13).

“Let him [the pastor] use those tenths and first-fruits, which are given according to the commandment of God, as a man of God; as also let him dispense in a right manner the free-will offerings which are brought in on account of the poor, to the orphans, the widows, the afflicted, and strangers in distress, as having that God for the examiner of his accounts who has committed the disposition to him. Distribute to all those in want with righteousness, and yourselves use the things which belong to the Lord, but do not abuse them.” – Apostolic Constitutions (4th century Christian literature)

1.10. To fulfill our obligation to tithe – or give other offerings to God, we must only give them to the covenant community (Deu 12:1-8, 26:1-19; Act 4:34-35, 11:29-30). Once the covenant community is established, never do we see the tithe given to someone/something else; (e.g. parachurch ministers, ministries, missions groups, etc.).

1.11. It is up to God’s appointed shepherds/leaders to determine the needs – or what is the most obedient use, of the covenant community’s tithes and offerings (e.g. Act 4:35).

Specific Application

2.1. To tithe means to give back to God a tenth (or 10%) of all He has given to us as realized income = gross pay for your labor, and/or net profit[2] earned from your business, property, investments (including dividends) or interest-bearing accounts[3] (Pro 3:9 – “firstfruits of all your produce” = tithe on all your pay or profit – 2Ch 31:4-6; Eze 44:30 w/Num 18:21-27; e.g. yield/pay – Exo 23:10 w/2Ki 8:6; e.g. profit – Pro 3:14).

2.2. Tithes are not paid on gifts – including inheritance and the money given to people by the church, pre-tithed retirement contributions or any unrealized gains (e.g. appreciation on your home, increase in the value of your stocks or retirement plans not yet distributed).

2.3. Scenarios

2.3.1. Sale of my home

(Calculation for determining net profit on the sale of my home) = Sale Price MINUS Original Purchase Price MINUS Capital Improvements/Expenditures (Definition: the addition of a permanent structural change or restoration of some aspect of a property that does one of the following: 1) increases the property’s total square footage [e.g. popped the top], 2) enhances the property’s overall value or functionality [e.g. added a patio, new windows] , 3) improves the usefulness of its life or the usefulness of a certain space [e.g. expanded the kitchen, finished the basement, added bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.], 4) adapts the property or space to new uses [e.g. installed handicap ramp]) MINUS Selling Expenditures/Any Improvements Made In Order To Sell (new flooring, paint, landscaping, etc.) MINUS Closing Costs/Real Estate Fees[4].

I buy my house for 200k and incur capital expenditures of 40k by adding an extra bedroom. Then in order to sell, I incur selling expenditures of 5k thru painting and replacing the carpet. I sell the house for 300k with closing costs/RE fees (of 20k).

My net profit (for purposes of tithing) would be $25k making my tithe $2,500:

Sale price $300,000

Less:

OPP (200,000)

GROSS Profit $100,000

Less:

Cap Ex (40,000)

Sell Ex (5,000)

CC/RE (20,000)

NET PROFIT $35,000

Total tithe (.10 x 35,000) = $3,500

2.3.2. Retirement account

I contribute $200/per paycheck (twice monthly) to my 401k. I also tithe on my gross pay. 15 years later (at retirement) I have $500K (100k personal contributions, 100k employer contributions, 300k increase on portfolio). I decide to take one distribution for the entire amount.

My tithe wb $40k (since employer contributions are income – not gifts).

Personal Contributions $100,000

Employer Contributions 100,000

Increase 300,000

TOTAL DISTRIBUTION $500,000

Less:

Pre-tithed dollars (100,000)

TOTAL $400,000

Total tithe (.10 x 400,000) = $40,000

2.4. 20% must be added to any outstanding tithe burden we were aware existed but did not pay at the time the income was realized and could be transported to God’s house (Lev 27:30-31; As it re: to transporting the tithe – see Neh 10:34-37 – “year by year” = Once a year).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: Neh 8:1-12 (e.g. 13-18) = God’s people are not responsible for what they didn’t know. IOW: no retroactive action is required. Revelation (in such cases) establishes only obligation to the present and the future. Hence the reason we are to have “joy” in learning new things.

[1] They are many who believe the tithe must no longer exist b/c there is no direct command in the New Testament. This reveals a poor understanding of the New Testament’s purpose which was never to replace the Old, but only upgrade certain applications (e.g. clean laws).

[2] By net profit is meant gross profit minus costs. See example above.

[3] Reinvested income (e.g. un-distributed business profit, rolled-dividends) are realized income and therefore part of our tithe burden. It sb mentioned also that past losses on investment do not offset present gains (e.g. loss on sale of past residence cannot be subtracted from gains made on sale of current residence). God is not penalized in the present for what took place in the past – especially since such losses were (most likely) disciplinary in nature (i.e. God was the One Who decided to give us that loss). Additionally, tithes are always determined/calculated based on present performance (Lev 27:32-33 = Among other things, these verses reveal the “no exception rule” – and present nature, associated w/the tithe.).

[4] Interest on your personal mortgage is not deductible since it is a function of determining income (e.g. rental income) not cost basis.

Repentance

Repentance is the prerequisite to receiving God’s forgiveness for our sins and His eternal salvation (1Ki 8:48-50; Luk 13:5; Act 3:19-20, 8:22, 11:18; 2Pe 3:9; Hence the reason the gospel is not simply “believe” but “repent and believe” – Mar 1:14-15).

Repentance means that:

2.1. I acknowledge/confess my specific sins (when committed), am truly sorrowful for my sins (Lev 26:40-42; Psa 32:5, 38:18; Mat 11:20-21; Jam 4:9, 5:6; 1Jo 1:8-10; Job 42:6-7).

2.2. I now hate sin (most especially my own) and am therefore genuinely thankful when God’s Word or others reveal its presence in my life (or those I am responsible for – e.g. kids, wives, congregation) so that it can be dealt with (Psa 141:5; Psa 119:128, 163; Jer 3:5 w/2Ti 3:16, 4:2; in re: to kids – Gen 18:19; Eph 6:4; in re: to wives – Eph 5:26; in re: to congregation – 2Ti 4:2).

2.3. I am now ashamed of my former sins and therefore do not revel in them, but rather avoid their display or those who like to relive them as happy memories of the past (Rom 6:21-23; Heb 12:2 – “Consider Jesus [as your example] who despised the shame [of sin]; 1Pe 4:2-4; Jam 4:8; 2Co 6:14-18; e.g. Class Reunions?).

2.4. I am not fearful of sin being revealed in my life since I am not aware of any sinful practice and genuinely want to deal with hidden sin or sins of ignorance (1Co 4:4; Psa 19:12-14, 139:23-24).

Repentance requires that:

3.1. I turn from/forsake the practice or approval of any and all things revealed to be sin (Eze 18:21-23; Pro 28:13 – “confesses AND forsakes”; Act 26:17-18 – “turn from darkness” [1Jo 1:6-8 = darkness refers to sin] = forsake sinful practice; Phi 1:9-10).

3.2. I accept all of God’s Law as still in force since this is necessary to identifying sin (1Jo 3:4).

3.3. I remove all those things/people that are sacrilegious (a profanity of what is sacred – e.g. false Christians) or hinder me from practicing obedience and put in their place whatever and whoever necessary to guarantee that obedience will be the pattern in all areas of my life (Mat 18:7-9; Heb 12:1; Luk 13:23-24; 1Co 9:27-30; 2Co 6:14-18 w/11:1-13; 1Jo 1:9-11; e.g. Act 19:8-9, 19).

3.4. Righteousness (obedience to God’s Word/Law) is the new pattern in the area once defined by sin (Joh 5:14; Luk 3:8-14; Act 26:20 – “keeping” = the practice/pattern of your life).

3.5. I fulfill justice (according to what God’s Word requires) for my sins – no matter the cost (Lev 26:40-42; Luk 19:1-10; 2Co 7:9-11).

Repentance includes rejecting as idolatrous and treasonous all thinking or beliefs that are revealed to be contrary to the teaching of God’s Word (Act 14:11-15 – “turn” = repent of/forsake their idolatrous thinking/beliefs; 2Ti 2:14-19; 2Co 10:3-6; e.g. Theistic Evolution/denial of literal six day creation – idolatry in re: to God/Jesus – Heb 11:3 ; treason in re: to Moses and Jesus – Exo 31:17; Mar 10:6, 13:19 and Luk 11:50-51).

 

Repentance is something I must continue to practice for the rest of my Christian life if God is to continue extending His forgiveness and salvation to me. If I ever refuse to repent, I will forever forfeit both my ability to repent, and any chance of forgiveness or salvation (Eze 18:24; Rev 3:19-21; Deu 29:18-20; Mat 18:15-20; Heb 6:6, 10:26-30, 12:17).

 

Repentance will not happen – nor continue to happen, unless I am a person who is first and foremost committed to God’s glory/name/honor/reputation over my own (Rom 3:1-4 = Paul was aware of the poor light his prior words were casting his fellow people in, but was committed to making sure it was God’s honor/glory/name/reputation that was defended and lifted up rather than his or their own; Mat 6:9 = This is what we commit to in our daily prayer; Rom 1:18 = Defending one’s own name/honor/reputation is why people when confronted w/the possibility of their own unrighteousness “suppress the truth”).

Church Fellowship – Part 2

Though verse 42 reveals more than “fellowship” as that which the early church committed themselves to, this particular discipline is clearly the authors’ emphasis given its focus in the remaining verses (vv43-46). As such, it behooves every church (and Christian) to know what God is telling us about it. What (then) these verses teach us about this important discipline:

We must be committed to fellowship…

(42) “devoted” [προσκαρτεροῦντες] = a constant and frequent loyalty or commitment (Act 1:14, 6:4, 10:7; Col 4:2).

The restriction/constriction placed on our freedoms/free-time b/c of our commitment to frequent fellowship should not surprise us since this is how Jesus describes the Christian life (Mat 7:13-14) “hard” [θλίβω] = restrictive/constrictive; to crowd against (Mar 3:9).

“The family of God is where I lose my life in order to gain it.” – Joseph Hellerman (When The Church Was A Family)

We must be committed to fellowship with our church family…

(42-44) “were together” = The members of the early church were not committed to fellowship w/unbelievers but Christians – or more specifically, the other members of their (particular) church.

“The [covenant] community must take precedence…for we are born for fellowship, and he who sets its claims above his private interests is specially acceptable to God.” – Josephus (Contra Apion, 2.197)

In establishing this truth, 3 implications follow:

2.1. It wb the members of the church whom I will seek for wisdom and choose to have the greatest influence over my thinking, decisions and life (Act 4:32 – “one heart and soul”; Rom 12:1-2; Phi 1:27, 2:1-4; 1Co 1:10).

“In a church imitating those found in biblical times the person perceives himself or herself to be a member of a group and responsible to the group for his or her actions, destiny, career, development, and life in general. The individual person is embedded in the group and is free to do what he or she feels right and necessary only if in accord with group norms and only if the action is in the group’s best interest. The group has priority over the individual member, and it may use…the members of the group itself to facilitate group oriented goals and objectives.” – B. Malina (Christian Origins And Anthropology)

2.2. It wb the members of the church whom I will seek to know best and will choose to open up to in relation to my own life (2Co 5:11-7:1…2 –“Make room for us”).

This is where the Corinthian church members struggled and may have caused many of them to forfeit heaven since God views those we are closest to (relationally thru getting to know them and them us) as a sign of our holiness and relationship w/Him (2Co 5:11-7:1 = commitment/closeness to our church family is how we live for Christ, complete holiness and remain the people of God).

2.3. It wb the members of the church to whom I choose to give my greatest loyalty (Mar 3:31-35)

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”

“The loyalty conflict [in Scripture] is not about making a choice between God and people. Rather, it is about choosing between one group of people and another – between our natural family and our eternal family.” – Joseph Hellerman

We must be committed to fellowship with our church family that includes getting together weekly with limited and varying members in the personal setting of our/their individual homes…

3.1. Whereas “the apostles’ teaching…the breaking of bread and prayers” (v42) refer to those commitments carried out in the context of the Lord’s Day/Sunday assembly (i.e. learning through preaching/teaching, cleansing through the Lord’s Supper/Table [e.g. 20:7; 1Co 11:20] and supplication through corporate prayers), the commitment to “fellowship” (v42) involves a different scope and setting. It was to take place w/limited and varying members in the personal setting of their individual homes (v46 – “breaking bread in their homes”).

3.2. When we consider the frequency of the other disciplines/obligations (as discussed, they occur weekly on Sundays or the Lord’s Day), the exact frequency w/which we are to be getting together (in these limited and special formats as an aspect of fellowship) immediately emerges. IOW: Our fellowship sb weekly.

Establishing such as the expected goal for members in the church is justified based on the fact that God’s requires His leaders to establish a clearly defined/specific metric (or standard) for His people in relation to all of His precepts/principles that is objective (based on the biblical evidence/instruction available and respectably relevant to the culture and time of the church’s existence – 1Co 7:25-26; Act 15:19-21; Deu 17:6-13 w/19:15 w/Mat 18:15-20 w/1Ti 5:19-21) and equitable (achieving/requiring the same for all – Num 15:16) versus subjective (based on preference) – including (especially in re: to) those precepts/principles which are deliberately more general (or less specific) in their communication (e.g. Exo 22:1; Heb 10:24-26). In this respect, the existing evidence points in the direction of weekly fellowship given this discipline’s close and integrated grammatical grouping w/the other disciplines and equal association with the unique form of devotion communicated in the text; one whose frequency of commitment we know to be weekly (42). Anything (therefore) other than this position would be presumption (even sin) since we would be acting on what we don’t know (i.e. w/o prescribed/proper evidence – Deu 17:6-13 w/19:15 w/Mat 18:15-20 w/1Ti 5:19-21).

We must be committed to fellowship with our church family that includes getting together weekly with limited and varying members in the personal setting of our/their individual homes for the purpose of sharing our resources, God’s Word and how God has worked or has been working in our lives.

4.1. As it re: to sharing resources: (43-45) = Rarely (if ever) does the term “fellowship” occur in Scripture w/o evidence of members in covenant community sharing their resources w/other members – most especially those in need. This includes the examples found in verses (43-45) as well as their repeat in (4:32). Indeed so strong is the connection between fellowship and charitable giving, that the word for fellowship (κοινωνίᾳ) is at times translated to reflect it (Rom 15:26; 2Co 9:13; Phi 2:1). It is in this sense that the phrase “had all things in common” is to be understood. IOW: what one member possessed as surplus was viewed as available for use in shoring up the needs in the congregation. This included the liquidation of one’s larger assets or investments (see Act 4:34-37) or the use of one’s gifts/abilities (v43 w/3:6-7; see also 4:33; this is the kind of fellowship prescribed in 1Pe 4:9-10; see also Rom 12:13 w/6-8).

4.2. As it re: to sharing God’s Word and how God has worked/has been working in our lives: (46-47a) “breaking bread in their homes, they received their food…” = In ancient times (including the first century), meals shared w/those outside your biological family signaled that the purpose was not (simply) physical nourishment. Food (in such scenarios) was eaten by guests as they reclined on couches and participated in learning or discussing aspects of social life from their theological viewpoint (Mat 9:10, 26:7, 20; Mar 2:15; Luk 7:36, 11:37, 14:15, 22:14)[1]. In the case of Christians, that (of course) would mean discussions on various life issues and relating it to the teaching of the Bible. By mentioning that the early church members received such food “with glad and generous hearts praising God” adds further insight as to what else accompanied these biblical conversations. It included also the sharing of how God had been working or was current working in their lives – as this would be the basis of their praise, gladness and expressions of generosity – God’s goodness to them in everyday life (e.g. Psa 145). The sharing of a meal/food was not then the key to accomplishing fellowship. It merely served as a vehicle to what was – the sharing of God’s Word and works among them (e.g. Luk 14:1-24; Ancient works associated w/such fellowship included the books, Table Talk by Plutarch and Learned Banquet by Athenaeus).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION:

*Does food always need to accompany such fellowship times? As already stated, food was not the necessary component to accomplishing fellowship. It again only served as a vehicle to what was- God-centered sharing and conversation. Therefore any personal gathering – including those without food, where God-centered conversation/sharing takes place, should be viewed as the fulfillment of this weekly commitment.

** When there is food, does that food need to include “bread”? As w/the previous question, food is not the focus or issue. That being said, bread should never be prohibited, condemned or any way treated as a bad thing – as can be the case among the “keto-Nazis” of our day. The Bible views bread (i.e. carbohydrates) as a blessing from God (Gen 28:20; Exo 16:5, 32, 23:15; Psa 78, 132:15; Ecc 10:19; Neh 9:15, as holy (Lev 21:6-22; Joh 6:35-58), something we are to pray for (Mat 6:11); as good for nourishment or energy (Psa 104:15) and never the cause of disease or death (e.g. cancer). Only sin can cause disease and death (not bread/carbohydrates). Interestingly enough, the only account of God killing people in relation to food was when they despised His provision of bread and instead craved meat (Num 11:1-35). Lastly in relation to bread, it sb mentioned that God warns us to never treat as “evil” (or unhealthy) what He calls “good” (Isa 5:20).

*** Does such fellowship need to take place in our homes? Once more, it is the action of sharing God’s Word and work in our lives w/each other that constitutes our time as fellowship – not food or our homes. Nevertheless, our homes play a vital role in others getting to know and love us more – something God also desires (1Th 4:9-10). Additionally, it can serve as a kind of “visual witness” to our submission to Christ in the areas of holiness, beauty and order (Deu 7:26).

**** What does this study tell us about the modern Christian view that the dining room table is the “proper place” to consume a meal? Such thinking is ill-informed and not supported by the Bible. Jesus preferred the couch J.

[1] “The general custom of the ancient world [was] there were three couches (hence the name for the dining room, triclinium). Food was served from a table in the middle of the room and one ate reclining. These [meals] were made the…setting for antiquarian learning [or] spent in…conversation [on] social [issues]” – Everett Ferguson (Backgrounds of Early Christianity)

Church Fellowship – Part 1

Though verse 42 reveals more than “fellowship” as that which the early church committed themselves to, this particular discipline is clearly the authors’ emphasis given its focus in the remaining verses (vv43-47). As such, it behooves every church (and Christian) to know what God is telling us about it. What (then) these verses teach us about this important discipline:

 

We must be committed to fellowship…

(42) “devoted” [προσκαρτεροῦντες] = a constant and frequent loyalty or commitment (Act 1:14, 6:4, 10:7; Col 4:2).

2 things must be acknowledged based on what the author is communicating to us about the members of the early church’s commitment to fellowship:

They had less “free time” for other things since this is the obvious implication of commitment – especially one that is frequent in nature (e.g. web dictionary definition of commitment = an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom).

The restriction/constriction placed on the freedoms/free-time of the early Christians by their commitment to frequent fellowship should not surprise us given how Jesus describes the Christian life (Mat 7:13-14) “hard” [θλίβω] = restrictive/constrictive; to crowd against (Mar 3:9).

1.2. The paradigm/pattern of frequent fellowship established by the members of the early church is what God expects us to adopt as our paradigm for fellowship (as well).

IOW: God expects us to adopt the same pattern of commitment in our own fellowship.

(How do we know that?) = B/C such biblical patterns/paradigms are authoritative (or mandatory) versus optional (e.g. Mat 19:3-6 w/Gen 1:27, 2:18, 21-24).

So then, we must be committed to fellowship…and the frequency w/which we are to give ourselves to that – will mean less free-time for other things. This, however, is what it means to be a Christian.

“The family of God is where I lose my life in order to gain it.” – Joseph Hellerman (When The Church Was A Family)

We must be committed to fellowship with our church family…

(42-44) “were together” = The members of the early church were not committed to fellowship w/unbelievers but Christians – or more specifically, the other members of their (particular) church.

“The [covenant] community must take precedence…for we are born for fellowship, and he who sets its claims above his private interests is specially acceptable to God.” – Josephus (Contra Apion, 2.197)

In establishing this truth, 3 implications follow:

2.1. It wb the members of the church whom I will seek for wisdom and choose to have the greatest influence over my thinking, decisions and life.

This is what Luke is getting at when he says that the early church members were of “one heart and soul” (Act 4:32 = same mind/way of thinking, decisions made in conjunction/conformity w/the community, life centered on the needs of the Body – Act 4:32b w/2:44b-45; Jer 32:39; 2Chr 30:12; 1Co 1:10; Phi 1:27, 2:1-4; Pro 15:22; Gal 2:1-2; 1Co 12:21; CONTRA the concerns/thinking/advice of the world – Rom 12:2; 1Co 3:18-19; Col 2:8).

“In a church imitating those found in biblical times the person perceives himself or herself to be a member of a group, and responsible to the group for his or her actions, destiny, career, development, and life in general. The individual person is embedded in the group and is free to do what he or she feels right and necessary only if in accord with group norms and only if the action is in the group’s best interest. The group has priority over the individual member, and it may use…the members of the group itself to facilitate group-oriented goals and objectives.” – B. Malina (Christian Origins And Anthropology)

2.2. It wb the members of the church whom I will seek to know best and will choose to open up to in relation to my own life.

This is where the Corinthian church members struggled and may have caused many of them to forfeit heaven since God views those we are closest to (relationally thru getting to know them and them us) as a sign of our holiness and relationship w/Him (2Co 5:11-7:1 = commitment/closeness to our church family is how we live for Christ, complete holiness and remain the people of God).

2.3. It wb the members of the church to whom I choose to give my greatest loyalty (Mar 3:31-35)

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”

“The loyalty conflict [in Scripture] is not about making a choice between God and people. Rather, it is about choosing between one group of people and another – between our natural family and our eternal family.” – Joseph Hellerman

We must be committed to fellowship with our church family that includes getting together weekly with limited and varying members in the personal setting of our/their individual homes…

3.1. Whereas “the apostles’ teaching…the breaking of bread and prayers” (v42) refer to those commitments carried out in the context of the Lord’s Day/Sunday assembly (i.e. learning through preaching/teaching, cleansing through the Lord’s Supper/Table [e.g. 20:7; 1Co 11:20] and supplication through corporate prayers), the commitment to “fellowship” (v42) involves a different scope and setting. It was to take place w/limited and varying members in the personal setting of their individual homes (v46 – “breaking bread in their homes”). Consider the phrase:

3.1.1. “breaking of bread…” = This phrase is not a reference to the Lord’s Table (as is the phrase, “the breaking of bread” found in verse 42). It instead refers to the meals shared by the early Christians as they frequented each other’s homes in fellowship. This is evidenced by: 1) its anarthrous construction (κλῶντές…ἄρτον versus τῇ κλάσει τοῦ ἄρτου)[1]; 2) the specific meaning associated w/the word “food” used to further describe the activity (“they received their food”[τροφῆς] = food for physical nourishment/sustenance (Mat 3:4, 6:25; Luk 12:23; Joh 4:8; Act 9:19, 27:33; Jam 2:15)[2].

3.1.2. “…in their homes” = We can be assured that such gatherings in “their homes” required limited numbers and therefore also a rotation of varying members from week to week given the size of the Jerusalem church. At this point in their history, they were over 3,000 people (v41), an impossible number to accommodate all at once given the size of the first century home (850-1800 sf.).[3]

3.2. When we consider the frequency of the other disciplines/obligations (as discussed, they occur weekly on Sundays or the Lord’s Day), the exact frequency w/which we are to be getting together (in these limited and special formats as an aspect of fellowship) immediately emerges. IOW: it (too) should be weekly. This we can be confident was the commitment of the early church based on:

3.2.1. God’s expectation that His leaders establish a clearly defined/specific metric (or standard) for all of His precepts/principles that is objective (based on the biblical evidence/instruction available and respectably relevant to the culture and time of the church’s existence – 1Co 7:25-26; Act 15:19-21; Deu 17:6-13 w/19:15 w/Mat 18:15-20 w/1Ti 5:19-21) and equitable (achieving/requiring the same for all – Num 15:16) versus subjective (based on preference) – including (especially in re: to ) those precepts/principles which are deliberately more general (or less specific) in their communication (e.g. Exo 22:1; Heb 10:24-26).

3.2.2. The discipline of fellowship’s close and integrated grammatical grouping w/the other disciplines and equal association with a unique form of devotion (one whose frequency of commitment we know to be weekly).

3.2.3. No mention by the author (Luke) or other writers of Scripture offering an alternative or contesting this view.

3.2.4. Anything (therefore) other than this position would be presumption (and sin) (acting on what you don’t know – i.e. w/o prescribed/proper evidence – Deu 17:6-13 w/19:15 w/Mat 18:15-20 w/1Ti 5:19-21).

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION/CHALLENGE: (1Th 3:12, 4:10; 1Pe 4:8-9) = Getting to heaven/remaining a Christian requires more than simply being on the right path. It requires also that we are running at the right pace – 1Co 9:24 = we must run to win; e.g. Leadville 100 = cut off time of 30 hrs to be “win” – be considered among those who have accomplished such a task; Is your pace/commitment to fellowship where it needs to be to get to heaven?

[1] “In Acts 2:42 there is a reference to the disciples ‘breaking the bread.’ Notice the article preceding ‘bread’ (not translated in our common versions, but present in the Greek text). The article indicates that a special ‘bread’ is under consideration, i.e., the Lord supper (cf. Acts 20:7 ‘the breaking of bread’ and 1 Corinthians 10:16 ‘the bread which we break’). However, in Acts 2:46 there is no article in connection with ‘bread,’ hence a distinction seems to be drawn between the ‘bread’ of 2:42 and 46.” – A. Campbell (The Christian System, pp. 272-273). Numerous scholars do not believe that the Lord’s supper is referred to in Acts 2:46 (cf. R.C.H. Lenski, A.T. Robertson, J.W. McGarvey, W. E. Vine, etc.).

[2] “The term ‘breaking bread’ in this passage does not refer to the Lord’s Supper rather, it denotes a common meal. This is evidenced by the fact that they are paralleled with “eat their food” in the same clause. The word ‘food’ translates the Greek ‘trophe’, which essentially means nourishment . The term (employed some sixteen times in the Greek New Testament) is never used of the communion, for such was not designed to nourish the physical body – F.W. Danker (Greek-English Lexicon, p. 1017); “Here [‘food’] means all kinds of sustenance; that which nourished them – ‘trophes’ – and the use of this word proves that it does not refer to the Lord’s supper; for that ordinance is nowhere represented as designed for an ordinary meal, or to nourish the body” – Albert Barnes (Commentary on Acts, p. 59).

[3] It is not an oversight on this author to make no mention of the phrase “day by day” which begins verse 46 since it has no bearing on the fellowship meal but only as to their daily attendance of the activities at the Jewish temple. This is supported by: 1) the grammar (the phrase modifies only the action of temple attendance); 2) the examples found in chs. 3 and 6; 3) Second temple Jewish history (Herod’s temple was daily attended by the Jews living in Jerusalem).

Trusting God – Part 2

Trust in God (the confidence you place in God to take care for you as the One Who is perfect in wisdom and understanding, love and power, righteousness and faithfulness to deliver on His promises ):

Is a commitment based on the facts of who God is and what He has said or done not how we feel.

(Hab 3:16-19; Luk 22:41-44 w/1Pe 2:23; 1Pe 4:19 w/5:6-10 commitment to the facts requires actively recalling those facts (as it re: to who God is and what He has said or done) (e.g. Psa 143:1-12; Psa 9:1-16; Psa 11:1-7).

Only benefits us to the degree that we trust.

(Mat 13:53-58)

Is why He decrees the tough times to come.

(2Co 1:8-9)

Will be easy or hard based on the depth of our relationship w/God.

The less I know someone, the harder it is for me to trust them (e.g. “I don’t really know them that well”). And the only way to know someone better (i.e. to possess a deeper – more trusting relationship w/them) is by spending time learning about each other. This is what I call “reciprocating self-disclosure” and is the basis of all relationships – including our relationship w/God (RS-D = revealing our hearts/persons to one another)[1]. The way to accomplish “reciprocating self-disclosure” w/God and GROW/GO DEEPER in our relationship w/Him so that we find trusting Him easier is by spending time getting to know Him personally (His thoughts/feelings/desires/the facts of Who He is and what He has done) and thru His listening to His Words and (then) communicating back to Him (who we are – our thoughts/feelings/desires/etc) thru prayer. And the most important time to be doing this is when the GOING is good (i.e. you prepare for war in the times of peace) —otherwise when the tough times (and their subsequent distractions) COME, you wb have a hard time trusting God. Unfortunately this is where a lot of Christians seem to be when the going gets tough (they have a hard time trusting God thru the trials – b/c they SLACKED in their relationship when things were good). THEY DON’T KNOW HIM that well (and so) have a HARD TIME (really) trusting HIM when THINGS GET ROCKY —the same way it IS w/trusting anyone else you didn’t that well.

In times of CRISIS, OUR GO-TO people will always BE those we have the deepest/closest relationships WITH (even if they are the last people we sb trusting). We are WIRED that way – WE GO BACK to what (or WHO) we know (regardless of the fact that they might be BAD/untrustworthy people).

Hence the reason people go back to abusive relationships/unhealthy lifestyles – even though they are the reason things are tough to begin w/. It is b/c that person (in those cases) is the only ONE they ever GREW close enough to TRUST. (Again) WE ALWAYS GO BACK to what/who we know.

SO, IF you want to make TRUSTING GOD easier (especially during those tough times), then you need to spend the NECESSARY time getting to know HIM and HIM – you (when things are not tough). Otherwise, the tough time (you are going thru) will include also (the tough time) of putting your trust in a God you don’t know (that well).

*The ease (or lack thereof) in trusting God during tough times is, therefore, the best litmus/life test for revealing how deep/good our relationship with Him really is.

Is what He wants in relation to those things He has promised.

What He has promised:

5.1. PURPOSE: All things that happen in our lives will benefit us (Rom 8:28; Mat 6:9-10)

5.2. PROVISION: We will possess everything we need to live blessed lives – i.e. happy/joyful, desire-realizing, faithful, God-glorifying lives (Psa 37:1-11, 16-31; Mat 6:11; e.g. desires – Gen 2:18-23 = God promises to provide a helper/spouse customized to you)

5.3. PARDON: We will receive forgiveness for our sins, salvation from eternal wrath (Jer 31:34; Eph 1:7; Mat 6:12)

5.4. PROTECTION: We will be protected from such blessedness being taken away by evil or evil people (Psa 37:12-15, 35-40; Psa 46:1-11; Mat 6:13; Joh 14:1-3)

5.5. PARADISE: We will inherit the blessings of the kingdom (now) and eternal life in the perfect paradise of the world to come (Joh 3:16; Mat 6:13 Fn)

Is not what He wants in relation to things He has not promised.

(Jam 4:1-4 = Trust in God for sinful things/things that will ultimately bring their destruction and the destruction of others is NEVER what God wants – nor what He promises to give. Hence the reason Jesus calls Peter “Satan” in Mat 16:21-23)

Does not negate being responsible.

Our trust in God for the above promises does not mean that no effort on our part is required. Instead, such effort in these areas is part of our God-ordained responsibility and the secondary means God uses to deliver on what He has promised. For example as it re: to:

7.1. PURPOSE: we are to be committing everything we do to our God-ordained purpose (Col 3:17)

7.2. PROVISION: we are to work/labor to realize what we need or want (Mat 6:26, 33; 2Th 3:10 = Paul’s command here is as much about discipline as it is upholding this principle of provision thru labor)

7.3. PARDON: we must seek justice/repent if we want to receive God’s forgiveness (Luk 3:3-14)

7.4. PROTECTION: we are to mindful of the wicked world we live in and protect ourselves (Luk 22:36)

7.5. PARADISE: we must be faithfully obedient to all of God’s laws if we hope to realize the blessings of the kingdom (now) and heaven (later) (Psa 50:16-17, 23; Psa 66:16-20) – Notice the connection between faithfulness and the ability to trust in God (or expect Him to care for you: (Psa 34; Psa 37:3-6, 34-40; Psa 52; Psa 55:22-23; Psa 86:1-2; 2Co 1:8-14; Heb 13:5; 1Jo 3:21-22 – this is why James can say what he does in – Jam 5:16b “the prayer of a righteous man has great power” or “avails much”).

Such faithfulness (unto “effectual trust”) includes those who become repentant/compliant (Psa 32:10-11; e.g. Jon 1:17-2:10).

Example of unfaithfulness causing your trust to not be effectual (unto provision/protection, etc.) = Something so small and stupid as you won’t put your dog on leash (though that is what the law requires where you live) (Mat 5:17-20).

CLOSING CHALLENGE (Pro 3:1-26)

[1] In a 2015 Psychology Today article, the writer reports the following based on the studied observations of social/behavioral scientists, “Self-disclosure promotes attraction. People feel a sense of closeness [or trust] to others who reveal their vulnerabilities, innermost thoughts and facts about themselves.”

Trusting God – Part 1

Trust in God (the confidence you place in God to take care for you):

Is a commitment based on the facts of who God is and what He has said or done not how we feel.

(Hab 3:16-19; Luk 22:41-44 w/1Pe 2:23; 1Pe 4:19 w/5:6-10 commitment to the facts requires actively recalling those facts (as it re: to who God is and what He has said or done – e.g. Psa 143:1-12; Psa 42:1-11; Psa 5:1-12; Psa 9:1-16; Psa 11:1-7).

Only benefits us to the degree that we trust.

(Mat 13:53-58; 1Chr 5:18-20)

Is why He decrees the tough times to come.

(2Co 1:8-9) = Notice Paul’s confidence (even in the midst of such despair). This is only due to the close relationship he already possessed w/the Lord.

Will be easy or hard based on the depth of our relationship w/God.

This is true of all relationships. The less I know someone, the harder it is for me to trust them (e.g. “I don’t really know them that well”). And the only way to know someone better (i.e. to possess a deeper – more trusting relationship w/them) is by spending time learning about each other. And the same is true w/God.

The way to GROW/GO DEEPER in our relationship w/Him so that we find trusting Him easier is (likewise) by spending time getting to know Him and ourselves. What this looks like is two things: 1) Listening and learning about Him, ourselves and the world we live in thru His words – which means attempting to understand what He is telling us about Himself, ourselves and our world thru the Bible’s teachings (Rom 15:4). 2) Talking to Him thru prayer – especially the Lord’s prayer since it is here that we are reminded of our purpose in living and His promises to us (Mat 6:9-15).

These TWO disciplines are how to spend time and grow/GO deeper in our relationship w/God. And the most important time to be doing this is when the GOING is good (i.e. you prepare for war in the times of peace) —otherwise, when the tough times (and their subsequent distractions) COME, you wb bankrupt (AND in a BAD WAY).

Unfortunately, this is where a lot of Christians seem to be when the going gets tough (they have a hard time trusting God thru the trials – b/c they SLACKED in their relationship when things were good). THEY DON’T KNOW HIM that well (and so) have a HARD TIME (really) trusting HIM when THINGS GET ROCKY —the same way it IS w/trusting anyone else you didn’t that well.

In times of CRISIS, OUR GO-TO people will always BE those we have the deepest/closest relationships WITH (even if they are the last people we sb trusting). We are WIRED that way – WE GO BACK to what (or WHO) we know (regardless of the fact that they might be BAD/untrustworthy people).

Hence the reason people go back to abusive relationships – even though that is the reason things are tough to begin w/. It is b/c that person (in those cases) is the only ONE they ever GREW close enough to TRUST. (Again) WE ALWAYS GO BACK to what/who we know.

SO, IF you want to make TRUSTING GOD easier (especially during those tough times), then you need to spend the NECESSARY time getting to know HIM (when things are not tough). Otherwise, the tough time (you are going thru) will include also (the tough time) of putting your trust in a God you don’t know (that well).

In this light, consider David’s words in (Psa 22) = David had known/spent time getting to know God from the time of his birth – and as a result, the trust he had in Gods deliverance remains strong –even though things were incredibly rough. David felt at times as though God had abandoned him.

Tying points 2 and 3 together then – what can be said about trust in tough times is this:

The ease (or lack thereof) in trusting God during tough times is the best lithmus/life test for revealing how deep/good our relationship with Him really is.

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION = HOW MUCH and How EASY do you find it to trust GOD when things GET tough?