“Be of Good Cheer (take heart), I have Overcome the World. In Me you may Have Peace”
Greetings and a Happy and spiritually beneficial New Year to all my readers. If you are new to this site, I welcome you and sincerely hope your visit with us is a favorable one. I invite you to become part of our growing readership. It is free and cost you nothing.
As we face the New Year 2018, let me quote a pertinent passage from Scripture that will put us in good stead as we face the future, “If by the Spirit you continuously put to death the activities of the flesh (sin), you will live” (Rom.8:13). I will borrow an astute paraphrase from General Douglas MacArthur, “It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh (humanity).” There’s a spiritual and physical aspect to man’s existence. With that said, I will share with you the method by which the devil (evil spirit) will attempt to lead you astray from doing what is truly good and wholesome for you and your family, to one that would otherwise be potentially damaging and discouraging. Although a path may seem rosy at first, its end is always negative for the devil’s intention is constant and always evil. (John 8:44; 10:10)
Temptation Of Christ, “Away from Me, Satan!” (Wiki Commons)
God’s will for you is always good, generous, and delightful, for He is Love. (1 John 4:8). God’s Love and promise for you in 2018, as it has always been, is wonderfully generous, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer.29:11). David testified, “O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them” (Psa.40:5, read whole chapter).
In the same breadth, He shows us how this promise can become reality in our lives, “When you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes” (Jer.29:12-14). Yes, prayer and wholehearted search for His answers to your life. This promise calls for a relationship based upon Love for one another, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (V.13, NASB). As David affirms, “I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart” (Psa.40:8).
A Love relationship is a matter of the heart – whole-hearted-ness! The Scripture tells us that God Loved us first, which enables us to Love Him in return. (1 John 4:19) So, He has taken the first step in this Love relationship – He surrendered His Son which we saw in the celebration of Jesus’ birth. (see: http://bulamanriver.net/11230) He then lived a perfect life and was crucified for our sins so that we may be made righteous, thus making the Love relationship possible between God and humanity. (John 3:16) Jesus died to free us from sin, and sin simply means to make wrong choices. David offers us insight to what sin and wrong decisions did to him, “For troubles surround me—too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage. Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (Psa.40:12-13). And that is the life God desires to mitigate and save us from in 2018. “The 4 Temptations” will help us understand the enemy’s purpose to scuttle all the good and promise God has in store for us. Only through His Son can the Father chart a beautiful plan with hope and fortune for the future.
The Bible affirms God’s sovereignty over our lives, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted,” Job was inspired to write. (Job 42:2). God assures us of our protection from Satan and from all worldly enemies, “This is the plan determined for the whole world; this is the hand stretched out over all nations. For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (Isa.14:26-27). Here, the passage is clear the enemy spoken of is none other than Satan the devil himself. (See Isa.14:12-15) And we have a part to play as humans created in God’s Triune image with freedom of choice, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are free Persons within the Godhead. (You may read about the divine freedom given to humans at: http://bulamanriver.net/10980)
When Jesus returned to His eternal heavenly abode, He continued His earthly ministry through His High Priestly role and function. His first act was to honor the Father’s promise to send the Holy Spirit who would come and reside with and in His followers until they are brought to the resurrection to immortality. (John 16:7; 1 Cor.3:16) Paul said, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Rom.8:11; also 1 Cor.3:16). So, the Spirit lives in you and me, but what does He do in our walk in this body/temple meanwhile? His work is to sanctify us and prepare us for eternity. This life of sanctification is what we have called the “Triune Life.”* (You may read my previous blog title, “How to Live The Triune Life,” at: http://bulamanriver.net/8036) Listen to what Peter said, you have been chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctification of the Spirit unto the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.1:2). The three Persons of the Triune Godhead is mentioned openly. So, you are called to the “Triune Life”*, chosen, and set aside under the charge of the Holy Spirit who lives in you as His temple (home). (2 Cor..6:16)
One of the ways the Spirit sanctify us is by infusing us with the right knowledge and mindset to “know thine enemy” and how he works so he will not take advantage and defeat of us. Listen to what Paul said in this regard, “That Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor.2:11). Who makes us wise so we are not ignorant of the enemy’s crafty tactics? The Spirit of course! He does this by guiding us through the Word of God, Jesus, who is the Personified Word in heaven and the literary Word on earth, the Holy Bible. Let’s now see the enemy’s schemes for this is what we will confront in 2018.
As sure as humans walk this earth, they will unquestionably encounter temptations, and these are the four areas of life that people will be tempted. Peter reminds us what our frame of mind ought to be when we are tried, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the vey thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner” (1 Pet.4:12-13, The Message). If we live in the devil’s world, then temptations is nothing to wonder at. This is how Satan has fabricated his world spiritually and the physical consequences it manifests through sin. Only Jesus through the Spirit can break the curse, and through Jesus’ High Priestly mediation cleanse and consecrate our actions. (Gal.3:13; 4:5; 2 Cor.5:21; Heb.4:15-16)
Temptation of Jesus in the Desert (Wiki Commons)
Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and military strategist of the 6th century, in the “The Art of War,” said this, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Remember, the first and primary tactic of warfare – “know thine enemy, and know thyself.” The Bible says the same thing, “Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes” (2 Cor.2:11, NLT). Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal.2:20) That is who we are. The question that remains and requires a response is, will we be faithful in our Love relationship with our Father and His Son, our Brother and Savior, so we can receive His Spirit to help us defeat the enemy? The Scriptures say, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Rom.8:16). That is our foundation as to “knowing thyself” – we are children of the living God. If children, then we live under His tutelage and care through His awesome promises. (1 Pet.5:7; Heb.8:10)
Recall what the Spirit brings to us, “For we know how dearly God Loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His Love” (Rom.5:5). It is not possible to Love God with our depraved human love. Only a Love as divine and unfeigned as God’s own Love can respond to an identical God-like Love. At any rate, if we have been faithful, we know that we have been crucified with Christ and no longer live to ourselves but in the Spirit. (2 Cor.5:14-17) Yes, Paul said, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor.5:17; also Gal.2:20). It is our new humanity we have in Jesus who is Personified in us by the Spirit who will oppose the enemy at all times. (2 Cor.6:16) Therein lies the knowledge of “knowing thyself” before we attempt to “know thine enemy.”
Let us begin. The first thing we learn about ourselves and the devil’s lies and temptations is that Jesus came to expose the enemy so we won’t have to be ignorant of his deceptions, and to “know thine enemy.” There were four areas of life which the devil tempted Jesus. They are sustenance, reliance, materialism, and power or influence. What we will go through is no different from what Jesus experienced except contextually, of course. Also, Jesus was perfect and sinless originating from God’s eternal Triune Being who became the Immanuel (God in human flesh), whereas humans are children of Adam’s fallen humanity. (Isa.7:14) (Read more about the two humanities at: http://bulamanriver.net/9718)
And here is God’s word of encouragement for us – we can overcome the enemy’s temptation because Jesus has already done it for us – not because we can do it on our own. This is the “know thyself” aspect of our battle with the enemy. Jesus said, “Be of good cheer (take heart), I have overcome the (Satan’s) world” (John 6:33b, emphasis added). Jesus said earlier, “In Me you may have peace” (V.33a) Yes, in Him, not in us or what we can do, we will find and enjoy peace of mind even through the trials life the devil will throw at us.
An often-overlooked point of Jesus’ temptation was that He would not confront the devil until after He was empowered with the Holy Spirit at His baptism in the Jordan river. (Mar.1:9-11) Though Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human, and His humanity needed the Spirit’s power and influence. This was to show us that as humans we too cannot overcome the enemy’s wiles without the Spirit’s divine power to insulate us from the devil himself. Jesus also lives and walks in us by a rebirth which we continuously affirm through our participation in the communion of bread and wine. Recall, it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness of Judea to confront the devil, not before then, so it is with us. (Mar.1:12-13) Hence, Jesus told the disciples “Wait for the promise of the Father to send the Holy Spirit” (Luk.24:49). Only Jesus return to the Father would make that event happen, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).
Jesus inaugurated the gift of the Spirit from the Father to mankind in the Jordan, and poured fully upon all humanity on Pentecost. (Matt.3:16-17; Act.2:1-4) Why is this important? Because the devil’s main weapon common in all temptation is fear. He sows fear in the hearts of humans and paralyses them with it. Fear has an insidious way of guising itself in people’s lives that they cannot fathom just how deep a role it plays in their day-to-day lives. God tells us how fear can be defeated: “Perfect Love drives out fear, for there is no fear in Love…The one who fears is not made perfect in Love.” (1 John 4:18). Hence, the Spirit is the deposit of God’s Love in us – the opposite of fear. (Rom.5:5) Thereby, in the temptations, when we speak of sustenance it is the fear of hunger, thirst, and lack. In reliance, it is the fear of our security and safety. In materialism, it is the fear of poverty and not measuring up to the standard of society around us. In power and influence, it is the fear of impotence and powerlessness, of incompetency through loss of power. But when Love (Spirit) is perfected in us, fear cannot defeat nor cripple us. . Let’s begin…
At the foot of Mount Quarantania, the traditional Mount of Jesus’ Temptation. (Wiki Commons)
Sustenance: sustenance begs the question with regard to our physical nourishment, bodily care, shelter, and what we do for a living and how we go about earning it. God has promised to provide for our physical sustenance. Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans (unbelievers) run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt.6:31-33, read from V.26-34). So, besides being physically sustained, it is also about how we earn a living or “seek the Kingdom first.” It is a question of ethics, is it principled and upright? Is it honorable or morally reprehensible? Does it serve the greater good of looking out for the welfare of others, beginning with our families? Is our attitude to work founded upon self-centered pride and indifference, looking down upon our dealings with others and being dishonest, disrespectful, and probably scornful? Or does all our action reflect God’s inclusive Triune Love for we are created in His image? So, there is the physical aspect of our sustenance, and there is the spiritual aspect as well (Kingdom).
In Jesus’ first temptation, Satan knew Jesus’ divine power, so he tempted Jesus to use His divine power to turn stones into bread and satisfy His famished body after having fasted for forty days. (Matt.4:1-4) The temptation had both the physical and spiritual aspects wrapped in one. In the four temptations Jesus confronted this was the manner in which Satan framed his battle. It will be no different with us, for as we saw “it is of the Spirit if we are to save the flesh (physical life).” Jesus was called to fast for a purpose, and abandoning it by breaking His fast by a miracle would have been the wrong use of God’s power, He replied, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt.4:4). Jesus recognized both the physical and spiritual aspects of His battle with the evil one.
In ancient times bread symbolized the ‘staff of life’ and is a metaphor for work and livelihood. Jesus showed that bread is also about spiritual food. He said, “I am the bread (sustenance) from heaven” (John 6:35). Jesus represents the spiritual aspect of our sustenance from which physical wellbeing is also derived. He is God’s Word. How does our appetite for physical and spiritual sustenance measure up? Do we even have an appetite for spiritual bread? Satan wanted to turn the table on Jesus by using a symbol He uses of Himself (bread of life) to commit sin. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever (attain immortality)” (John 6:51, also John 11:25).
Satan’s spiritual temptation was intended to deceive Jesus in conceding His divine power to the devil’s evil purpose as Adam conceded his divinely ordained dominion of the earth to Satan in Eden. The enemy covertly and treacherously wanted to malign Jesus’ character as the Word of God, and the “bread of life” for humanity. (John 1:1-5) It was deviously repugnant to say the least.
We all have the power to commit to some higher good (Kingdom) to which we have set our sights. But we must exercise discipline and not waver and meet our obligation to seek the Kingdom to the end, and not surrender to temptations to give up something good and honorable. Jesus answered the devil, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt.4:4). Jesus, the Word of God, is the bread from heaven. (John 6:41). Do we turn to God’s Word for spiritual food, for His guidance and inspiration through His promises about how we exercise our freedoms and powers through the way we live, search for meaning, and most of all earn a living?
Some peddle illicit and dangerous drugs for a living, others peddle lies to make a sale. People follow unscrupulous business practices. Still others obstruct and reject the right of free choice as a basic inalienable human birthright in normal human interaction. There are those who use racial and other unholy biases when operating their businesses. People use deception to seek to dominate others, instead of practicing fairness and respect for all with no regard for color, creed, status, nationality, language, or whatever purports to divide us. These, and many such activity does not display Kingdom values. Life is not merely about working to surviving physically, more importantly it is about “seeking the Kingdom first” or as the Psalmist declares, “Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” (Psa.37:3-4).
By “do good” it speaks of the acts of the Spirit manifesting the Love-fruits in believers. (see 1 Cor.13). Love is not an empty word, or some mystical substance we imagine can fill us. No, Love is a way of life with practical physical manifestation and consequences. All our acts must be wrapped through and through in the Spirit’s Love-fruits. Paul said we are to owe no one anything except the debt to Love. (Rom.13:8) Jesus commanded His disciples with these words, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have Loved you, so you must Love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you Love one another” (John 13:34-35). Peter admonishes believers, “Above all, Love each other deeply, because Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Pet.4:8). The Spirit will always guide and convict our actions, and inspire us to live the ‘Kingdom-good’ of God’s divine Love. (John 16:7-15) (To read in detail about God’s Love and what it means (fruits), please go to: http://bulamanriver.net/9199)
(Spiritually, sustenance is about our recreation and being forever washed clean through Jesus’ blood and born anew in the Spirit to a new life in Christ’s new humanity with changed spiritual appetites)
Reliance: reliance is about dependence upon God and His promises for us. It is the opposite of self-reliance and doing what seems right to us. Reliance is about a way of life of inter-dependence as opposed to independence. The Scriptures tell us about God’s many promises, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Pet.1:3-4; also 2 Cor.1:20). His promises shows how much He cares for us. We saw how the promise goes hand in hand with physical and spiritual sustenance, but His promises go beyond mere sustenance, He promises to give us security and safety. It is not possible for a person to genuinely have joy in life (sustenance) without security. God promised, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” (Isa.32:18; also Psa.4:8). All of God’s promises embrace us holistically as we’ll see in all four temptations and more. He blesses us with guidance and wisdom, He gives us victory and strength over our fears and trials, He supplies the faith for confident living, and a peaceful and happy life. (Isa.26:3) All His promises are intended to provide for us as His children He Loves wholeheartedly, and give us a life Paul describes to Timothy as: “Life that is truly life” (1 Tim.6:19).
Many are unaware of the many, many positive and holy promises God has made and laid out for us. If we have accepted Jesus as personal Savior then we ought not to be unfamiliar with God’s promises which have been ratified (made reality) in Jesus’ blood. The promises contained in God’s covenant with His people is the expression of Jesus’ power to save us, and more. Do we know and rely upon them as a way of life? You can read and study God’s promises from His Word, the Bible, at several helpful web sites. You may find this site helpful: http://scripturepromises.com/).
In this second temptation of Jesus, the devil quoted one of God’s promise to provide security and safety, “The devil led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard You carefully; they will lift You up in their hands, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Luk.4:9-12). Ironic isn’t it, that Satan it seems knows more about God’s promises than most of us for whom these promises were committed. The devil is practicing an important principle of warfare: “Know thine enemy,” for he knows that God’s promises forms the backbone of our defense against his attacks. This is how we “know thyself” because our faith in His promises is a large part of our weaponry against the devil.
Temptation of Christ at the Temple Height (Wiki Commons)
Satan was cunningly tempting Jesus to doubt God’s promise to protect Him. To doubt God’s promise, to distrust His Father’s care concerning Him, is to tempt God, and Jesus made that abundantly clear to the devil. The devil uses fear to tempt us to doubt God’s promises. Do we sometimes allow fear instead of God’s Love (promises) to manage our lives? Fear creates doubt in our hearts and can breed distrust in His promises. We must ‘nip it in the bud’ and not allow it to fester and metastasize.
Earlier we read this passage, “Perfect Love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in Love” (1 John 4:18). Love, as we saw, is the foundation of our relationship with the Triune God. “Perfect Love” means simply that we are relying one hundred and one percent upon God’s promises. Love means God stands behind all His promises, and cannot lie. Gods’s Word assures us, “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Num.23:19). He proclaims, “I will not dishonor My Covenant (Promise), because I will not change what I have spoken” (Psa.89:3, NSV emphasis added)
We ought to pray for living faith to trust God at His promises at all times. The Bible speaks of a genuine faith as worth its weight in gold. (1 Pet.1:7) Why? Because it is the power by which the promises of God is switched on and comes alive in the life of the believer. Jesus told the blind men He healed, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (Matt.9:29). The Bible states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” and we please God by activating our faith in His promises. (Heb.11:6) If our life is riddled with doubt, then we will vacillate “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind,” and worst mistrust His promises. (Jam.1:6) But we are not led about by our weak human faith corrupted by doubts – that was crucified to the cross. Now the Spirit imbues and empowers us with Jesus’ personal living faith now alive and active in His new humanity in us. (Gal.2:20; Rom.1:17; Rom.3:22; 2 Cor.13:5)
Yes, we have to be delivered from our dead human faith into Jesus’ living faith. Paul said Jesus’ faith is a shield which “extinguishes all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph.6:16). How do we snuff out the “flaming arrows,” or temptations, of the enemy? Through the living faith of Jesus in God’s promises. (You may read my post on faith at: http://bulamanriver.net/2811, also http://bulamanriver.net/3168, and http://bulamanriver.net/8382) I mentioned that one of the primal weakness of the human faith is that it is filtered through the five senses, so that it says, “I have to see, smell, taste, touch, or hear, to believe.” This is human faith. Jesus’ living faith takes us beyond the physical realm and into the spiritual world of God. It is not a world of the five human senses, but a spiritual world that can only be navigated by faith. Paul said, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor.4:18).
Jesus taught us to daily pray for protection from the devil to not tempt us beyond that we are able to cope. (Matt.6:13) To obey God for the sake of uncompromising obedience is mindless legalism and will lead to eventual failure when faced with devious temptations. But true obedience arises when life is experienced out of a Love relationship with God and faith in His many promises. God even makes a promise concerning the matter of temptation where Paul asserts, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor.10:13). Believe and trust the power of the Spirit in you.
(Spiritually, reliance is about our redemption through our regeneration in a surrendered life to the promises of God and His covenant with man)
Materialism: materialism is a form of idolatry. We worship material stuff when we assign value upon them higher than our worship of God. Our lives are totally wrapped up in them and its net effect is we render God’s promises ineffectual due to our reliance upon the ‘self’ who worships material stuff. Basically, that is what materialism does – it turns on the ‘self-reliance switch’ and becomes self-worship. We turn off the ‘God-reliance switch’ along with His promises. (Pro.14:12; Rom.6:21) Our possessions has taken a weightier meaning than our relationship with God and His promises. It becomes part of the ‘self’ in its own world. It can be in the form of a job, money, a car, real estate, a friend, a hobby, your boat, jewelry and precious stones, whatever material possession you treasure in your heart. It is the desire to accumulate material stuff so that they make up the ‘self’ environment which you cannot do without. It is the consumption of money with its purchasing power.
How do we measure success in our minds? Many people measure success by the accumulation of money and material possessions. Are we fearful of peer pressure and failing to keep up with others societally? When the economic temptation of money and material objects is above everything else, it turns into the sin of idolatry. God and His promises ought to define our measure of success. For example, do we see the following promise as the yardstick to success, “Seek first My Kingdom and righteousness, and all these (material) things will be given to you as well”? (Matt.6:33-34, emphasis added). God knows our needs and wants before we ask Him. His blessings are true blessings because they come without all the stresses that usually accompany worldly wealth which place enormous pressure upon us. Instead, His prosperity adds joy in our lives, for Proverbs utters God’s economic promise this way, “The blessing of the LORD brings (true) wealth, without painful toil (stress) for it” (Prov.10:22, my emphasis). Today, stress is an enormous emotional burden people carry daily and it has been medically proven to be the harbinger of many sicknesses and diseases.
Satan tempted Jesus in this area, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matt.4:8-10). There are two obvious temptations here that can befall man, materialism and power. Jesus’ answer to the devil clearly show the temptation is the idol worship of Satan himself, for the temptation of worldly materialism and power resides ultimately in the devil who is the architect and god of this world.
Jesus contextualizes our temptation in that the material life with which God blesses us is actually the framework of the greater spiritual treasure of His Kingdom we pursue first, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt.6:19-21, 33). Note, there is material wealth and spiritual wealth. God is not denouncing material wealth, He created all wealth and all the riches of this world belongs to Him, and confers them upon us as stewards, not heirs of them – not yet!. (see Rom.8:17-39) He declares,”The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (Hag.2:8, also read Psa.24:1; Psa.50:10-11). In other words, the material and physical are not true riches, but merely shadows, figures, of the real spiritual treasures. You may read the Parable of The Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21. Thereby, we must not be foolish as to give ourselves to material riches at the expense of the Kingdom riches. The priority is to seek the true Kingdom wealth first, then the genuine physical wealth will follow automatically without our asking. (Matt.6:33)
(Spiritually, materialism is about our sanctification so our Love is focused away from materialism and find true freedom by choosing the true riches that’s heavenly and earthly He will supply)
Worldly Power & Influence: Matthew Henry is his commentary said, “The glory of the world is the most charming temptation to the unthinking and unwary; by that men are most easily imposed upon.” So much so, people can become drunk with power, whether it is in politics, in military domination, in business empires, in family legacies, in many human talents like music and athletic prowess, satanism and mystical affiliations, the accumulation of money and possessions, in personal dreams and projects, etc. When power is idolized, be it personal or shared, then Satan is worshipped. Christ rejected this proposal with abhorrence and declared, “Away from Me, Satan!”
The Scriptures tells us plainly the truth about power, “Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God” (Psa.62:11, NASB). The Bible explains how this divine power can be made to inhabit human life. Jesus said, “All authority (power) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matt.28:18). The divine power of God is channeled to mankind only through Jesus who took our humanity into Himself (Immanuel) and glorified it in the Triune Godhead of the Father, Son, and Spirit. The power Satan exercises in this fallen world is given under God’s suffrage until His divine purpose is completed. (Rom.13:1-2; John 19:11) Satan was allowed to create a worldly system that’s based on lies and deception, beginning with Adam, from which he has created pseudo and artificial power bases which has no basis in reality to God’s sovereign power by which He creates and sustains the universe and all in it, both in the spiritual and physical realms.
When God says, “I create evil” (Isa,45:7), it does not mean He deliberates on how to bring evil upon us. That’s impossible because He is Love, and evil is never in His nature nor intent. The Bible states clearly, “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone” (Jam.1:13). Evil comes because God has allowed the devil latitude to do his evil deeds by sanction through His eternal wisdom, so nothing exists outside God’s sovereign will. Hence, we can say as the Scripture testify, “what was meant for evil, God meant for our good” (Gen.50:20). In His wisdom, He tell us through Paul, “All things God works for the good of those who Love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom.8:28). This takes place because God’s power in His Love resides in His Son who now lives in each of us, as Paul affirms, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27).
Humanly speaking, all of creation from which power ultimately finds its source is God’s creation, not the devil’s. The enemy possesses no power to create nor is he given free hand to do with humanity as he pleases, or else we would have been destroyed long ago. His power is given under constraint and under proviso. In other words, God limits all his evil intents and actions for His own divine purposes. If Satan’s power is artificial and temporary, why do we invest our lives and souls upon something that’s fabricated and based upon lies and deception? Jesus said, “What profit will a person have if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life (soul)? (Mar.8:36, ISV) Yes, that is the end-result – it’s nothing more than a mirage and has no power in reality, and anyone who bets his life on it will lose it. The “whole world” means the devil’s world. Though worldly power may seem real in the physical sense, we are reminded by Elijah about where the true power base lies, he said, “Don’t be afraid. We have more forces on our side than they have on theirs” (2 King 6:16, GWT).
Consider the various world-ruling empires that have existed upon this earth which have eventually disappeared for one reason or other. There were world-dominant empires of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Rome, and others. Why? Because it is power that exist in a vacuum (world) controlled by Satan. This applies to all kinds of power bases, not just political. Why not invest in the real thing, in true power? Why not invest in God’s world – the Kingdom of God of which Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords. To lose your true self to a power that cannot stand the test of time and reality (eternity) is nothing short of absurd and ludicrous. It ought not to be worthy of our consideration. It is a shameful proposition to even consider losing your divine destiny as a person made in the Creator’s image for an empty promise for power.
Here is a promise of God’s power He gives to support and defend us, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa.41:10, ESV). Here’s another similar promise, “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me, declares the LORD” (Isa. 54:17). We saw the promise about angelic protection which Satan quoted to Jesus, “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” (Psa.91:11). Here’s an all-important one from Jesus Himself, “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40).
Yes, God gives us power, but it is all about vindicating His purpose in each of us. It usually starts small – overcoming the ‘false self’ (Adam’s fallen humanity), and living the ‘true self’ (Christ’s new glorified humanity) by means of the framework where life is lived overcoming the four temptations of the enemy. It is the expression of a Love relationship with our God and our heavenly Father. When we will have grown to genuinely live the “Triune Life,”* His power will manifest itself in our lives. For divine power proceeds forth from no other place than His Trinitarian Being. When we find our place in His Triune Being we will receive gifts with divine power in the Spirit to carry out His divine will for us in our faith walk. (Eph.4:7-8)
The Scriptures utters God’s promise for those who wait upon Him, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor.2:9). Yes, it is beyond what our limited human mind can fathom, but in a restrained way, much like squinting in a fog and peering through a mist as Eugene Peterson states aptly, we are made to understand for the Spirit reveals to us the hidden things of God, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (1 Cor.2:9-10, ESV). This is the miraculous life believers are privileged to live supernaturally in the Spirit.
(Spiritually, power is about glorification when we are conferred power through our gifts from God and immortality to manifest His Loving will forever)
“The Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him” (Matt.4:11) (Wiki Commons)
The enemy’s role is to promote his lies and deceptions and create schism and division in our Love relationship with God, and if possible, to totally sever this Love relationship altogether. And these are four of his main arsenals with which he attacks us, and if possible, destroy our Love relationship with God our Father. But Satan will not succeed because God’s plan to create mankind in His Trinitarian image and likeness will never be thwarted. God created man to Love God above all else, and secondarily to Love his neighbor as he Loves himself. (Mar.12:29-31) Jesus said “there is no greater commandment than these” two, therefore, all of creation is merely the vehicle and means by which to accomplish that singular end. Everything in the created universe was never intended to be taken as end in themselves much less worshipped and idolized. That divine end is very simply to fulfil our purpose as humans of living life in God’s likeness and image of Love, for the Scriptures say, “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16).
Sometimes we wrongly imagine God has a narcissistic streak when He charges us to Love Him above all else. (Luk.10:27; Deut.6:5) Is He? We fail to realize that if you are commanded to Love Someone who is in essence identically like you, then the command is tantamount to expressing Love for yourself, in as much as we reflect Him. The only reason we can’t see God in that light is because of self-love. We are self-absorbed. Love is giving and generous, self-love is getting and taking. We Love God topmost because He does the same for us. John said this, “God is Love. Whoever lives in Love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). The only way to Love yourself authentically is to Love God first. Loving yourself first before God is really disparaging yourself as a person made in God’s image, and brings all kinds of needless burden and preventable affliction. Thereby, to Love God above everything is the highest and noblest thing you can do for yourself. The higher we Love God, the deeper we Love ourselves as free personalities created in His Love-image. For God is who we are and growing to become for all eternity: LOVE! (Gen.1:26-27)
What does Jesus’ victory over Satan means for you and me? This past November I posted a blog about God’s imputive principle that’s intrinsic in His Love, whereby He attributes Christ’s victorious life on behalf of humanity so that His victory over the devil in the temptations and ultimately His death on the cross, is ascribed to us and is deemed our own personal victory. By a spiritual rebirth into Jesus’ new humanity we make that victory reality. (John 3:3,7). (You may read my post at: http://bulamanriver.net/10980) There is a word aptly used to convey this imputive principle and concept. That word is vicarious. It means to mediate, substitute, delegate, and impute. So, we speak of the vicarious humanity of Jesus to mean He overcame the temptations and died on the cross in defense of believers.
All the temptations we will confront in 2018 will come under one of these four sub-headings which encompass all the nuances of life’s expression in one form or another. We are not perfect by any means, but that’s just the point – the temptations are intended to expose our spiritual flaws and weaknesses and change us. The temptations are aimed at Satan not us, as he tries to exploit our vulnerabilities to further his wicked ways against God and us. We turn the table on the devil by metamorphosizing his temptations from a negative to a positive in the Spirit and see them as the framework by which we are being conformed to Jesus’ likeness as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. (Rom.8:28-30)
As we read from Peter’s passage, “this is a spiritual process” (1 Pet.4:12-13, The Message). We will have successful lives on earth and ultimately becoming glorified humans similar to Jesus’ resurrection to immortality. (Rom.8:29; Col.1:18; John 6:47; 1 Cor.15:50-53) The vital point is that we are experiencing maturing repentant lives in the Spirit, so that Christ our High Priest is ceaselessly mediating for our salvation in His temple (human life/church). He is not a once-off Savior, but an ongoing One. (read my post about Jesus, “Born for His High Priestly Role” at: http://bulamanriver.net/11230)
My hope is that my post today has given you some insight into what to expect in the coming year in your physical and spiritual battles with our common yet unseen enemy. Paul said he is the “ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Eph.2:2). This is a spiritual battle first and foremost for our thoughts and minds. Though the devil is unseen, so is the Holy Spirit, who oversees and defends us in every battle. (Eph.6:10-18; 2 Cor.10:5-6) Always remember Jesus promise, “Be of good cheer (take heart), I have overcome (Satan’s) world. In Me you may have peace” (John 6:33, my emphasis). We can overcome because Jesus has gone before us, won every battle, and imputes His victory in our stead. In Him, may you enjoy and experience glory after glory in your victories.
We close with God’s Promise to protect us from Satan, “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2 Thess.3:3). Have a glory-filled New Year!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or you may email me on email@example.com. Please continue to pray and help in whatever you can those affected by natural disasters. Thank you for visiting.
Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life”* in the person of Jesus’ “Immanuel humanity.” Be strong in the Lord’s joy.
(Your Servant In Christ)
* “Triune Life” means to inherit human personhood identifying us as true persons with gifts in Christ and living according to the image and likeness of God. (Gen.1:26-27; Rom.8:29) It means a believer who lives the 3-dimensional life with the Triune God, as opposed to the ‘solitary’ 1-dimensional life in himself (“Adamic humanity”). It means to live in relationship with God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who lives and walks in you (“Immanuel humanity”). Man’s union with the Triune God, or “Triune Living,” is made possible by Jesus, who Himself, is one in substance and reality with the Triune God, who took our humanity into the very Being of the Triune Godhead. To live the “Triune Life” is the miraculous expression of the Spirit in us. The miraculous life is the promise of the New Covenant, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them” (Ezek.36:27) This is a life of divine power. You can read more at: http://bulamanriver.net/9092, also at: http://bulamanriver.net/?p=8036)
**Bulamanriver: To read the different facets of the life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website, www.bulamanriver.com, where you can order a copy of my book, “Bulamanriver – The Miracle of Triune Living”
Mission Statement: Read the Triune Life Mission, Vision, and Value statements at: http://bulamanriver.net/8664
All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.
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