Thursday, July 07, 2005

Introduction

.... Over the years, through a chorus of Christian voices, a new body of teaching on demonology has emerged. It has been spoken from the pulpit, in prayer groups, and even through praise and worship teams; it has dominated Christian television and other forms of Christian media, winning such wide acceptance that it has achieved the status of ‘standard doctrine' -- yet in the end, it is merely a consensus of error. Through the popular misconceptions of so many contributors, a ‘mythology’ over the devil has taken form.
.... Who is the devil, where does he come from, and what is his position in this world? What is he capable of doing, and what are his limitations? How does he fight against us, and how are we, through Christ, able to prevail against him? Those are the questions this study will address. Let us start at the beginning:
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(This blog reads from top to bottom, and is continued in the articles below. To add comments, skip to the bottom of the blog or simply click here.)

The Pre-Adamic Race

.... In creating of the entire universe, God's crowning achievement was mankind, whom He made in His own image. But according to a new doctrine, the same Biblical passage explains the origin of demons. For when God created Adam and Eve, the Scriptures say:

.... "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

(Gen 1:28 KJV)

.... According to the popular new teaching, this passage hints at another race of men who inhabited the earth before Adam and Eve. God was displeased with them and destroyed them (it is said,) so that Genesis 1:28 actually speaks of His starting over. And the disembodied spirits of those original beings became the demons of today.
.... At first glance, one might wonder how this passage could support such a conclusion. It is entirely based on the word ‘replenish’, which appears only in the King James translation. To ‘replenish’ the earth, it is argued, means that the earth had once been full, was then depleted, and was now being ‘re-filled’. Thus, a prior existence is suggested and the rest in conjectured. But is that what the passage really implies?
.... The Hebrew word in question is the word ‘male’ (pronounced ‘maw-lay’) which simply means ‘to fill’. It does not imply a second or subsequent filling at all, and all other modern Bibles have corrected this error in translation.
.... So it is simply that the King James translators made an unfortunate choice of words. Since this was the only place in the Bible where such a thought could remotely be sustained, correcting it leaves the doctrine of a pre-Adamic race unsupported, and the part about those pre-humans becoming demonic spirits was conjectured from the beginning. Actually, the Bible teaches that demons are fallen angels and were never men at all – Matt 25:41; Rev 12:4.
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.... But let's prove this further. Even if there had been a pre-adamic race, God would not have destroyed them utterly. That would be an admission that He'd made a mistake in creating them in the first place; an admission that He was imperfect and short-sighted in His creation. Instead, if such a race had existed and they went too far astray, God would have destroyed the majority yet worked with them to save a remnant – as He did in destroying the vast majority of mankind through the flood, though He saved the race itself through Noah (see Rom 11:2-5).
.... In that episode, even the animals were saved. Why not save a whole race of mankind? This is consistent with God’s character and would therefore be the truth of the matter :

.... "For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob."

(Mal 3:6; c.f. Num 14:12, 2 Pet 2:5-9, Mark 13:20)

.... The final argument on this point is the simplest and most profound. When God created mankind, He called the first man ‘Adam’, which simply means ‘Man’. This implies that ‘Adam’ was a unique description, something that would distinguish him from any other being that existed, or had existed before him. In fact, 1 Corinthians 15:45 calls Adam ‘the first man’.
.... Thus when Jesus came, He was called ‘the second Adam’, or ‘the second man’ (1 Cor 15:45-48). Adam was first, and Jesus was second. But if a pre-adamic race had really existed, wouldn’t Adam have been the second man, and Jesus the third?

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The Fall of Man

.... Another popular misconception begins with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. It is widely believed that when the serpent tricked Adam and Eve into sinning, he also tricked them into surrendering their dominion of the world to him.
.... Apparently God was caught off guard by this stratagem as well, because Satan is said to have gained the ‘legal right’ to control everything in the world, and even God seemed to be constrained by this. He was reduced, instead, to a sort of guerilla warfare. But just how Biblical is this concept?

.... "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD'S; but the earth He has given to the children of men."

(Ps 115:16)

.... In the beginning, God gave dominion to man through an arrangement called Pro-Rex. In other words, God remained the true Sovereign at all times, and man was given a sub-dominion of the world (Psalm 24:1). We see a Biblical example of this concept when David made his son Solomon the king in the practical ways, though he himself remained the true king in the meantime, and could overrule Solomon whenever he wished (1 Kings 1:1-53). In fact, at a later time, he issued further instructions to him (2 Kings 2:1).
.... So even if mankind had lost their dominion of this world in their fall, that dominion would have reverted back to God alone, and not to Satan by default. For if a steward fails, only his master can appoint a new one (as in Luke 16:3). The fall of man would not have effected the true, overall dominion of God at any time or in any way, for He has always been and will always remain Lord of all (Josh 3:13).
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Let’s return now to the account of man’s fall, to see how the question of dominion was actually settled. God’s judgment on the serpent was a curse, to make him lower than the other animals as he went on his belly in the dust; and also, the serpent and mankind would thereafter be at war (Gen 3:14-15). In no sense was a ‘new dominion’ announced, except that the man should now have dominion over the woman (Gen 3:16).
.... What actually happened was that man’s dominion fell into ruin with him (Rom 8:20), so that Adam would now rule in the world through toil, adversity, and eventual death (Gen 3:17-19). But man's dominion did not change hands to Satan through this. In Psalm 115:16, which is quoted above, God still considered man’s dominion to be intact after such a long time; after more than 4,000 years, He still refers to man's dominion as the status quo.
.... Therefore the belief that Satan acquired man’s dominion through Adam's fall is unfounded. In fact, it raises questions that are so problematic and profound they simply cannot be answered honestly:

1. The argument contains an important contradiction when it notes that the world, lost by Adam, could only be reclaimed by a second Adam (meaning Jesus). How, then, could Satan have gained control at any point? For only another Adam could do so.

2. The fall of man took place on essentially the same terms as Satan's own fall: "Ye shall be as gods" (Gen 3:5; Is 14:12,13). How could this possibly mean that mankind lost the dominion, but Satan gained it?

3. It is claimed that man lost the dominion of the world through one sin. How then can Satan, who sins continually, maintain it? (And with the ‘legal right’ to do so!)

4. Those who teach this doctrine tell us that Jesus, as the second Adam, reclaimed Adam's dominion. Why then do the same persons continue to ascribe this dominion to the devil? Their own doctrine tells them that this must have ended 2,000 years ago.

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'Legal Rights'

.... The concept of ‘legal rights’ has received wide acclaim in many sectors of the church today. It views the creation as a judicially governed system in which all players must play by the same rules in order to gain access to, and operate in, the ‘earth realm’. The popularity of this doctrine is surprising since such a concept is never mentioned in the Scriptures at all. But it becomes outright troubling when applied to God Himself as a limitation. Let’s think about the ramifications of this belief:
.... If there is some sort of ‘law’ or legal framework that even God must answer to, then that law is more of an absolute than He is. It controls His conduct. It tells Him what He can and cannot do. It may even thwart His intentions and constrain His will and power. Basically, it overrules Him. And it means that in some key way, God Himself is ‘under the law’.

.... "Who has assigned Him His way, or who has said, 'You have done wrong'?"

(Job 36:23)

.... The same verse poses another, far more serious question. Who would have given God such a law? For that law-giving entity would be even higher than He is. So a belief of this nature challenges the very essence of what makes Him God.
.... But in fact, God would never operate through the constraints of such a judicial system, nor has He ever:

.... "Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places."
(Ps 135:6)

.... "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’."
(Is 46:10)

.... ‘All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, "What have You done?"’
(Dan 4:35)

.... ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth".’
(Matt 28:18)

.... Furthermore, Satan himself is referred to as being ‘lawless’ and his operations as ‘lawlessness’ (2 Thes 2:7-9). Neither would he would have regard for such an abstract system of ‘legal rights’, for he would disregard them. That’s the essence of what makes him the devil. He is constrained, instead, by the limits that God allows him, as in the case of Job.
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.... In other words, God is always Sovereign, and He can do whatever He likes, anywhere and any time He likes, and there is no consideration, ever, that can restrain Him.

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'Legal Bodies'

.... Together with the concept of ‘legal rights’ comes the concept of the ‘legal body’. It is claimed that only natural, physical bodies have a ‘legal right’ to operate in the ‘earth realm’, and therefore God (and, according to some, the devil,) are constrained to work in this world through these ‘legal bodies.’
.... For example, Satan could not tempt Adam and Eve directly. He had to work through the ‘legal body’ of a serpent. Also, Jesus had to be born into this world so He would have a ‘legal body’ to operate in the ‘earth realm’.
.... With only a little thought, the contradiction in this doctrine is glaring. If Satan could only interface with Adam and Eve through the ‘legal body’ of a serpent, then how did he interface with the serpent in the first place? If Jesus could only interface with mankind through the ‘legal body’ He was born with, then how did the Holy Spirit interface with Mary to impregnate her, and give Him that body?
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The real harm in this belief comes through it’s application. Some teachers claim that we, as Christian’s, have ‘legal bodies’ in this world and so God ‘must’ operate through us. His hands are bound unless we offer up that ‘authoritative prayer’ to ‘authorize’ Him to work in this world. But let’s see what God Himself has to say about that:

...."Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice?"

(Isa 40:13-14)

.... In a practical way, this sort of belief takes God out of the driver’s seat and puts man in His place. So once again, it touches on the very basic question of what makes Him God.

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Satan’s Claims

.... 'Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish".'

(Luke 4:5-6)

.... Jesus told us that the devil is the father of lies, for he does not abide in the truth (John 8:44). Therefore let’s start by considering whether or not this claim is true, and let’s do so by seeing what God Himself has to say on the same subject:
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.... "I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me."
(Jer 27:5)

.... ". . . till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses."
(Dan 4:25)

.... "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him."
(Col 1:15-16)

.... At first glance, there seems to be a conflict between what Satan claimed and what the rest of the Bible reveals as true. But some further definition will help resolve this:

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Areas of Dominion

.... When God created mankind, He said: "let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Gen 1:26). In other words, mankind was given a dominion over the physical world. Yet our world exists in more than one dimension, and other dominions exist in those other areas:
.... Beyond our own realm of the physical earth, the Scriptures speak of ruling principalities and powers who exist in the heavenly places, or the spirit realm; rulers such as the Princes of Persia, Greece, Tyre, Rosh, Meshech and Tubal (Ezek 28:2; 38:2; Dan 10:13,20). While there is no definitive Scripture to explain this arrangement, here is a scenario that seems to basically account for it:

1. God created the heavens on the first day, including the host of angels– who rejoiced together at the creation of the world, which took place later on the same day (Job 38:4-7).

2. In a revealing Scripture, we see that God created the heavens, and then the earth, with the overall intention of having the earth inhabited (Is 45:18). So at that time, from the very first day, a large part of the angelic host was given pro-rex spiritual dominion over the nations that would eventually form. They received a charge from God concerning the spiritual life of the nations they would one day represent (as in Heb 1:14).
.... This also provides an opportunity to examine the spiritual status-quo. We know that all principalities were created through Christ and for Him, so this is their original status in the heavenlies (Col 1:15-16; Eph 6:12). Because Jesus is the head of all principality and power, and there was never a sinful fall in His own reign (see Col 2:10), it also means that this status quo remains unchanged. In other words, the reign of those princes could only have been a pro-rex arrangement.
3. Lucifer’s dominion was an overall controlling function that encompassed a good portion of the other, regional principalities (Job 2:1,2). He was their chief yet clearly subordinate to Christ Himself (Col 2:10).

4. When Lucifer rebelled, sometime after the creation of man, he drew many of the other princes into rebellion with him, as well as many of the lesser angels. But at least some of the chief princes, such as Michael the archangel, remained true to God (Dan 10:13,21).

5. Just as man’s dominion remained with man after his fall, Lucifer’s dominion remained with him after his fall. In each case, sin did not revoke their pro-rex authority, it only meant that they now reigned over a fallen realm (Job 15:15; 2 Pet 3:13).

6. Because of the pro-rex arrangement, Satan’s reign in his realm was never absolute, for he was always constrained to respect God’s higher authority. For example, Michael had not joined in his rebellion, and he was the Prince over the children of Israel. So either God exercised His pro-rex option to maintain Michael in that role, or Satan was bound to respect and honor God’s appointments in the first place, and was unable to change them (probaby the latter).

7. When Lucifer drew a third of the angels into rebellion with him (Rev 12:4), hell was created as a place for their eventual punishment (Matt 25:41).

8. Very quickly after his fall, probably immediately, Lucifer tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden so that mankind, too, would fall.

.... As a result of this split in physical and spiritual dominions, we sometimes see a ‘disconnect’ between the earthly government and their ruling principality. For example, Michael has always been the Prince of Israel, but sometimes the king has been righteous David, Hezekiah or Josiah, and sometimes it has been wicked Ahab or Manasseh. Conversely, the Prince of Persia is obviously a wicked prince (Dan 10:20). And yet at one point God chose Cyrus, king of Persia, to be His shepherd who would perform all His pleasure (Is 44:28).
.... So to resolve Satan’s claim (from the previous section) here is what we must understand. He is the Prince of the power of air, and controls virtually all of the spiritual principalities or realms of dominion, and that is what he was offering Jesus in tempting Him. But he does not control their earthly counterparts, the earthly governments, which God Himself appoints:

.... "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God."

(Rom 13:1)

.... So when Satan told Jesus, ‘for this has been delivered to me.’ he was correct in the sense that he rules in the spiritual part of this realm – because God gave that to him after the creation of the world, and the arrangement still stands. But Satan does not appoint whom he pleases in the earthy governance of this realm – that part was the lie. And when Jesus answers, ‘Him only you shall serve’, He seems to include a reference to this fact.

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Satan’s Influence

.... In Scripture, Satan is sometimes referred to as the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). The Greek word for ruler is ‘archon’, which suggests a prominent place of leadership but not necessarily an absolute reign. It is the same word used of Jairus, for example, as a ruler of the synagogue (Luke 8:41).
.... To imply an absolute rule the title ‘head’ is used, and this is given to Christ alone, never to the devil (Eph 1:22; Col 2:10). So as the prince of the power of the air, Satan exerts an influence or a sway over the sons of this world, to seduce them into behaving in a disobedient manner (Eph 2:2), but he is not an irresistible force in that sense:

.... "We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one."

(1 John 5:19)

.... In another passage, Satan is referred to as the ‘the god of this age’ (2 Cor 4:4). Since a strict interpretation would be extremely problematic (compare to Ex 19:5; Zech 4:14), we need only understand this as being true of him in a certain way. Let’s combine this understanding with another Scripture and the true concept will emerge:

.... ". . . in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience . . ."

(Eph 2:2)

.... According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, the Greek word for air can simply mean ‘air’, or it can mean that which is circumambient. Since we are talking about a spirit in this passage, the true understanding is very similar to the German concept of the ‘Zeitgeist’, or ‘spirit of the age’:
.... The American Heritage Dictionary defines 'Zeitgeist' as "The spirit of the time; the taste and outlook characteristic of a period or generation." For example, when we think of the Roaring 20's, the Depression era, or the 60's, certain characteristics of those periods will naturally come to our mind. There was a general mind set of that day; a way of thinking that was ‘in the air’; it was the course of the world at that time (Eph 2:2).
.... The implication would be that Satan has greatly influenced the secular mind set of every age, with the intention of promoting disobedience among men. In other words he is the ‘Zeitgeist’ personified; he is the ‘god’ of the world mind set.
.... Because this influence is spiritual in nature, it is not associated with the dominion that was given to Adam over the physical world. It is probably the dominion Satan originally had, being used in a fallen way, just as he, himself, had fallen.

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Satan’s Power and Limitations

.... Let’s carefully consider some of the Scriptures that talk about the standing of a Christian vs. the devil:

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.... "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him."
(1 John 5:18)

.... "But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one."
(2 Thes 3:3)

.... "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself."
(2 Tim 2:13)

.... "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love."
(Col 1:12-13)
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.... In Colossians 1:13, we see that God has delivered us from the very power of darkness. This is called ‘the inheritance of the saints in the light’, and the same passage tells us that we have been qualified to stand in this inheritance.
.... In other words, a complete liberty from Satan's power has been imputed to us, just as righteousness is imputed to a believer apart from any consideration of our own, personal worthiness (Rom 4:24). In fact, this standing is maintained through God’s own faithfulness (2 Thes 3:3), even if we are not always faithful in return (2 Tim 2:13). If we do sin, it may effect us in some other ways, but not in this particular way.
.... Because we have been delivered from the very power of darkness, there is nothing Satan can do against Christians in a ‘power’ sort of way such as demon possession, murder, illness, or any other form of physical harm. He can only work against us in non-power ways such as deception, temptation or irritation.
.... However, the devil is cunning and he does not give so easily:

.... "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

(1 Pet 5:8)

.... Since Satan can not touch a believer directly, he has learned to use the indirect principle of the stumbling block. Through this, he throws us up against something else that is powerful, which actually does have the power to harm us. This is something we may call a 'powerful proxy'.

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The Stumbling Block

.... The principle of the stumbling block was introduced by Balaam the Son of Beor, the wayward prophet who plagued the children of Israel in the wilderness (Rev 2:14). In the beginning, he was summoned by Balak, King of Moab, to curse Israel (Numbers 22-24). But in attempting this, he found that he was unable to do so. He had no power against God’s people for he was unable to curse those whom God had blessed (Num 22:12). .
... Because he could not work against Israel in a power sort of way, Balaam counseled Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel. This stumbling block would come through the non-powerful avenue of temptation.
.... ‘If we tempt them, and they succumb to the temptation,’ Balaam had basically counseled them, ‘then God Himself will be moved to destroy them! So even if we don't have any power against them, He does, and by casting a stumbling block before them, we can throw them up against God Himself.
.... So the 'powerful proxy' in this case became God Himself:

.... "Then Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel."

(Num 25:1-3)

.... As a result of this provocation, as the Lord's punishment upon Israel, twenty-four thousand Israelites were slain in one day (Num 25:9). And Satan took careful note of this. Later, when he found that he, too, was unable to work against Christians in a direct power sort of way, he would use the same principle effectively:

.... 'But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.'

(Acts 5:3-6)

.... In this particular case, Satan modeled his assault after Balaam’s, in that he used the principle of the stumbling block to throw them up against God Himself. Thus, Satan worked in a non-powerful way of temptation. If Ananias and Sapphira had not listened, nothing would have happened to them; but since they did listen, the actual power that destroyed them came from God.
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.... Later, Satan would learn to use this principle in additional ways, to throw us up against other powerful proxies. Let’s say, for example, that he tempts a man to commit adultery. If the man shuns this temptation and humbles himself before God, nothing bad will happen to him. But if not and he falls, power could come against him from several other directions:
.... First, God Himself would be angry with him, and would probably punish him. In addition, the man’s wife would become angry and might divorce him. The disillusionment might cost him the respect of his family, friends and co-workers, and do irreparable harm with his kids.
.... Furthermore, from the woman in question, he might contract a sexual disease. Financially, he may be burdened with courtroom costs, with alimony or a patrimony suit or both, and for healthcare costs. And that may only be the beginning.
.... In this example, Satan’s non-powerful weapon of temptation threw him up against a spectrum of powerful foes, and the actual harm in his life came through them.
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.... Further examples would abound. If Satan tried to deceive a Christian, for instance, his deception would be a non-powerful tool. But through it, he would seek to throw them up against something else that was powerful. The Christian might listen to bad financial advice, for example, and find that he was soon impoverished. Or in a worse scenario, Satan may deceive him with false doctrine. If the error was severe enough, it could cause him to fall out of his relationship with God (as in Gal 5:1-4).
.... Satan also uses the non-powerful tool of condemnation. If we don’t listen, nothing bad will happen to us. But if we do, the episode may lead to stress induced illness, or even to suicide. Through these and so many other example, he uses a non-power approach, and tries to throw us up against a powerful proxy.
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Perhaps the most powerful proxy that Satan uses in the church today is our own faith. As we have seen, he has no direct power over Christians. But if we believe he has such power, that belief is powerful, and he could use it to his own advantage in many ways.
.... If Satan says ‘Jump!’ and we believe we must, we may very well do it. Or if we believe we must wage warfare against him in a certain manner, which turns out to be unbiblical, we will find that we have locked ourselves out of truly effective warfare.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Origin of Sickness

.... Sickness came into world through the fall of man, which brought the creation into a fallen state as well (Rom 8:20). Therefore, indirectly, sickness came into this world through the devil, but in a much more direct sense it is in the world because of man (as in 1 Cor 15:21).
.... Throughout the Old and New Testaments sickness is mentioned frequently, and on some rare occasions it is mentioned as a result of the devil’s work (Job 2:7; Luke 13:11). But this is usually not the case, and there is never an example at all in which a Christian received an illness as a result of the devil:

.... "We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him."

(1 Jn 5:18)

.... "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love."

(Col 1:13)

.... Christians may still have illness in their lives, simply because illness is in the world and so are we. It does not imply the work of the devil, nor even the presence of sin. In fact, let’s consider the case of Epaphroditus in which we actually see the opposite:

.... "For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me."

(Phil 2:27-30)

.... In this case, sickness was found in the context of one who served God with tenacious loyalty and love. So when sickness occurs among Christians, it is not necessarily an indictment of anyone’s spiritual condition. And this is generally true (though not always) when sickness occurs in non-Christians, as well (see John 5:14).


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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Spirit Types

.... In today’s spiritual warfare, we find specific types of demon spirits blamed for the ills of all mankind. For example, Isaiah 61:3 speaks of a ‘spirit of heaviness’; 2 Timothy 1:7 mentions a ‘spirit of fear’; Hosea 4:12 mentions a ‘spirit of harlotry’. And as traditions have formed, these passages have taken on new meanings.
.... At other times, wicked persons from the Bible are personified and made into ‘spirits’ of a similar type and power, such as ‘the Jezebel spirit’ (1 Kings 16:31). Still other ‘demons’ have been derived from the diagnosis of psychology, and morphed into demonic form. Thus we have a ‘spirit of depression’ or a ‘spirit of anxiety’, or legions of other human woes that are portrayed as demons. But is that what the Bible is really teaching?
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.... When the Bible speaks of ‘a spirit of heaviness’, or a ‘spirit of fear’, etc, it is not actually talking about a demon at all. It is merely talking about a mood or an attitude within our own, human spirit. For example, when the Scriptures speak of ‘the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit’ this clearly defines a God-fearing Christian woman (1 Pet 3:4). Likewise, a ‘contrite and humble spirit’ clearly refers to an attitude within the spirit of those who have pleased God (Is 57:15). Or even on a less happy but still godly note, we might look to Hannah who said, "I am a woman of sorrowful spirit." (1 Sam 1:15).
.... Had the devil never existed, we would still have had plenty of problems simply because of the fallen world in which we live. In some cases, ascribing everything to demons can simply be a form of blame-shifting to avoid personal responsibility. In others, the devil may actually be playing an indirect role through outward situations or even through unsaved persons. So, rather than blaming everything on the devil automatically, we need to sort things out judiciously:

.... "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

(Eph 6:12)


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Monday, July 04, 2005

The Colossian Heresy

.... In the Pagan world of the Mediterranean, in the years of darkness before Jesus, a certain mythology had emerged. To them, the spirit realm was ruled by a triumvirate: Zeus, Aries, and Hermes, of which Zeus was the greatest. Sometimes these three ruled in harmony, but at other times they vied for advantage among themselves.
.... Beneath the triumvirate was a caste system of lesser gods and goddesses, some good and some evil. The triumvirate held a higher rule over them in a general sense, but this was by no means an absolute rule. They could still be overruled in the specialized areas represented by those lesser gods. For example, Poseidon was seen as the god of the waters, and he could usually overrule the triumvirate in this particular realm – though not in other realms.
.... Through a series of errors, in the absence of the apostles, part of the Colossian church would later ‘Christianize’ this old mythology and include it in their beliefs. In accordance with their former traditions, Father, Son and Holy Ghost became a triumvirate rather than a Trinity (Paul answers, Col 2:9), and the angels and demons became the lesser gods and goddesses in their caste system. Paul answers this heresy by saying:

.... "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."

(Col 2:8)

.... Under the Colossian heresy, angels and demons could overrule God in their own 'specialized areas', according to their own agendas. Of course this teaching was entirely untrue (Col 2:10). Because these beings were considered lesser gods and goddesses, angels were considered worthy of worship under this delusion (Col 2:18), and demons, though not actually worshiped, were ascribed the same competitive standing in a negative sense, which was simply a back-door way of offering them similar homage (Paul answers, Col 1:13).
.... But the worst part of the offense came in relation to Christ Himself. Through their mistaken ‘knowledge’ of spiritual things, and their higher estimation of angels and demons, the Colossians had ascribing a lesser role to Jesus Himself by default. And through this, their relationship with Him was at risk:

.... "Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God."

(Col 2:18-19)

.... In fact, the entire Colossian mind set is not dissimilar from the ‘spiritual warfare’ books one finds in Christian book stores today. Through ‘revelations’ that are often based on an author’s personal experience, rather than Scriptures, demons are given far too much credibility. By ascribing all the woes of mankind to them, we are giving them much more credit (and glory) than they deserve. When we finally do see him at the end of days, we will be very surprised at just how well he deceived us:
.... "Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: 'Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, Who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?'"
(Isa 14:16-17)

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

Michael’s Example

.... The Book of Jude contains the story of Michael, in his own spiritual warfare with Satan:

.... "Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

(Jude 9)

.... In revisiting spiritual warfare, two points may be made from this passage. First, we are not to rail upon the devil as so many Christians do. It is unfitting to call him names, belittle him, taunt him, etc. In fact, the context of this quotation shows that railing on demons and sneering at them is the preeminent trait of a false teacher, who has no idea what he’s talking about:

.... "Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves."

(Jude 8-10)

.... Michael is mindful of the fact that Satan was originally a very high creation; and whatever he became afterward, that original part of him remains and does not warrant our disrespect. So in following his example, we need to leave the personal pejoratives out of it.
.... For our second point, let’s contrast Michael’s statement to our modern concept of spiritual warfare. When we feel ourselves tempted, or when we've participated in a prayer group, etc., we’ve all been taught to say, "We rebuke you in the name of Jesus!" Yet Michael approached it differently, saying, "The Lord rebuke you!"
.... This difference illuminates a vital point at the heart of the entire contest:

.... "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

(James 4:7)

.... In this passage, Michael is acting as a spokesman. He has clearly submitted to God, heard from Him, and has passing along God's message. In other words he spoke from a place of submission, and the real warrior in this case was God.
.... In our modern approach, when we say to the devil, "We rebuke you in the name of Jesus!" we have technically submitted to the Lord, because we have spoken in His name. And yet . . . is that really where our heart was at? Or has this phrase become a formality, a reaction, and might it be true that we’ve learned to delight in the spiritual conflict itself now?

.... ‘Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven".’

(Luke 10:17-20)

.... Jesus is telling us about a subtle danger in our spiritual warfare. Our hearts can be caught up in it very easily, as warriors of old who gloried in the battle. It is mysterious. It is action-packed. It is enticing. Because of this, it can become a focus in itself – and when this happens, our eyes are taken off of Him.
.... As often as we engage in spiritual warfare, we must be certain to keep our heart on the things that are above, where Christ is (Col 3:1). We must always speak from a standpoint of submission to God, in which we are hearing His voice. Like Michael we must learn to become spokesmen, and follow the Lord as our captain, rather than our trying to lead Him.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jesus in Spiritual Warfare

.... Jesus was tempted throughout His entire life on the earth (Heb 4:15). But after His baptism He was tempted in three very direct ways, which have become known as 'the great temptations':

.... Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
....But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
.... Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge over you,' and, 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
....Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'"
....Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me."
....Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"

(Matt 4:3-10)

.... Christians have long noted that Jesus answered the devil by quoting Scriptures, and that the Scriptures are the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17). Battle was clearly being waged, but to whom did the battle belong? Have we noticed the attitude in Jesus’ heart, in the Scriptures that He quoted? This is the true battle, so let’s paraphrase and take another look:

Command that these stones become bread:

.... "That is not the heart of My relationship with God. I abide in Him. I live by every word that proceeds from His mouth; I depend on His word, and not on My own initiatives."

Throw Yourself down.

.... That would abuse My relationship with God. I submit to Him, rather than tempting Him. I follow Him, rather than expecting Him to follow Me.

Worship me.

.... Be gone! My relationship with God is such that I submit to Him alone, and serve Him. I clearly state My submission to Him, and to no other.

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.... In other words, in each case, Jesus submitted to God in order to resist the devil (James 4:7). In itself, this is usually all we will need to do. Because submitting to God automatically excludes adverse thoughts such as temptation: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." (Isa 26:3).
.... Please notice that even in the greatest of temptations, Jesus did not actually resist the devil, in the sense of turning to fight against him, until He saw that the devil was persisting (Matt 4:10). Likewise when we submit ourselves to God, this will usually be enough to win the battle in itself. But when we see the devil persist, we might point this out to God and request His help:
.... "You tell the devil that I rebuke him!" we might feel the Lord saying; and then, as in Michael’s example, we might turn and say to the devil "The Lord rebuke you!" or, "We rebuke you in the name of Jesus!" while remaining in submission to God the whole time. This is the correct and effective way to foil his temptations and set him at flight.

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Friday, July 01, 2005

The Full Armor of God

.... In our previous section, we quoted Isaiah 26:3:

.... "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
.... When we submit to God and trust in Him, we resort to the very essence of our faith relationship. Faith means that God speaks, and man believes God, so we are always talking about a submissive standing. And this faith becomes the shield that the enemy cannot penetrate (Eph 6:16). This brings us to the concept of the full armor of God:

.... "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel."

(Eph 6:10-19)

.... The full armor of God that Paul has described is metaphoric. Each piece of armor is actually a facet of our abiding in Christ, so here is the intention that should be breaking through the metaphor:

.... "let us put on the armor of light . . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ."

(Rom 13:12-14)

.... The purpose of the armor is to wage warfare, which is done through prayer (v 18-19). Our prayer is not addressed to the devil in the form of a binding him, dismissing his errands and assignments, etc. (no one in the Bible ever prayed to the devil), but to the Lord Himself, in the form of a petition (as in Acts 4:29,30).
.... Furthermore, in Ephesians 6, Paul tells us about the actual battlefield involved. In a ‘defensive’ sense, we are to pray on behalf of the saints with all perseverance and supplication, that they may stand against all the wiles of the devil (vs 11,18). But in the ‘offensive’ sense we are to pray that the gospel may be freely preached.
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.... The gospel, in fact, is the arena in which the devil most dreads to wage warfare (2 Cor 4:4). The world is blinded in darkness, and he does his best to keep it that way (Matt 13:19). When he succeeds, people remain under his influence or sway (1 John 5:19).
.... But when we pray and the door of faith is opened to unbelievers, we truly advance on Satan’s kingdom and displace him. Jesus told us that the gates of hades would not prevail against us, and gates are a form of defense. So Jesus is actually telling us that through proper warfare we will possess the gate of our enemy (Matt 18:18; Gen 22:17).
.... No wonder Satan puts so much effort into corrupting our understanding in this area! But the time has come to stop playing into his hands, and awake from the darkness of deception, that Christ may give us light (Eph 5:11-16).

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

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