Friday, August 31, 2018

spiritual battle, Demons Obey Jesus (gospels)

We know from other scriptures that the evil spirits must go before God's throne to get permission to tempt and attack people.  Over all the many, many years of doing this, they would have seen Jesus there.  So not only would they have just "recognized" Him, but without a doubt, they KNEW exactly who He was!

And interestingly, not only that, they knew His current history of coming out of Nazareth.  This tells us that the demons would have been watching and reporting to each other, and discussing strategy...

(Mark 1:21-27)  They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. 22 They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying,What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

In Luke's report on this same event, we see that demons probably often physically harm people.  But on this occasion when Jesus cast out the demon, the person was left "unharmed" (otherwise Luke would not have bothered to mention this fact)...

(Luke 4:35)  But Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst of the people, he came out of him without doing him any harm.

Jesus is able to cast out demons with just a word...

(Matthew 8:16)  When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. 

Jesus is able to keep demons from saying certain things...

(Mark 1:32-34)  When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.

As part of Jesus' ministry, He went throughout the country of Israel...

(Mark 1:39)  ...He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.

(Mark 3:10-11)  for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!”

Although Jesus' main focus was the Israelites, Jesus also helped the gentiles.  This one event is recorded in two of the four gospels.

In Matthew's report, we see that a woman's daughter was cruelly demon-possessed...

(Matthew 15:21-22)  Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.” 

In Mark's report, we see that the daughter was just a little girl.

What is also important to note is that Jesus was able to cast out the demon without physically being there...

(Mark 7:25)  ...after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately came and fell at His feet. 

(Matthew 15:23-28)  But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.” 24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” 26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

(Mark 7:29-30)  And He said to her, “Because of this answer go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left.

The fact that Jesus was able to heal people, as well as cast out demons - because the demons have to obey Jesus - is proof to the Israelites that Jesus is their Messiah, and He is the Lord of hosts...

(Luke 7:20-23)  When the men came to Him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’” 21 At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind. 22 And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sightthe lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them. 23 Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”

From this we see:
- demons are able to possess people (Mark 1:23, Luke 4:33)
- demons can possess little children (Mark 7:25)
- many people were possessed (Matthew 8:16, Mark 3:11)
- demons can cause people to have seizures (Mark 1:26, Luke 4:35)
- demons can cause people physical harm, if allowed (Luke 4:35)
- demons can be cruel to people (Matthew 15:22)
- demons recognize and know Jesus from heaven (Mark 1:24, 3:11, Luke 4:34)
- the demon knew of Jesus' recent history on earth, which means the demons would have been watching and giving reports, and discussing strategy together (Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34)
- part of Jesus' ministry was casting out demons (Mark 1:39)
- Jesus' ability to heal people, as well as cast out demons (because demons have to obey Jesus), is proof that He is the Messiah, the Lord God of hosts (Luke 7:20-22)
- demons must obey Jesus (Mark 1:27, Luke 4:36)
- Jesus can cast out demons with just a word (Matthew 8:16)
- Jesus can cast out demons without even "being there" (Matthew 15:28, Mark 7:29-30)
- Jesus can keep the demons from saying certain things (Mark 1:25, 34, Luke 4:35)

Personal experience:  it makes sense that my younger brother (the one that used to be involved in the occult) would get so angry at the rest of us.  And although he seemed to experience a greater agitation on Sunday mornings when we'd all go to church, he seemed to be less angry for the rest of that day.

Today's takeaway:  having Jesus as our personal Savior is why we then have authority over the demons.  And the more Christ-like we are, the sooner and better the demons are able to recognize Jesus reflected in us...

(Ephesians 5:1-10)  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

spiritual battle, Picking Sides (gospels)

Jesus explained a few times that the world would hate believers - even if it was just because they hate Jesus.

Most people do not want to hear that they are sinful and need forgiveness, which requires humility.  And because of pride, most people, if they do realize they have a sinful nature, will want to do things their own way to try to deal with it...

(John 7:7)  The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil."

(John 15:18-19)  “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you."

The unpardonable sin is not becoming a believer.  Within that parameter, one would hate Jesus, and one could believe that Jesus was possessed and was aligning Himself with Satan!

Of course, if a person repents after saying and believing such things and turns to Jesus as their Savior, then God is able and will forgive that person...

(Mark 3:28-30)  “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”30 because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Here Jesus explained it another way.  Because we are born in sin, we cannot go to heaven - until we believe in Jesus.  And within that parameter, one would believe that He is the Son of God.

As He started this message, none of the people there were believers.  But notice in verse 30, that while Jesus was speaking, many people started to believe...

(Luke 11:21-30)  Then He said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews were saying, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 And He was saying to them, You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am Heyou will die in your sins.” 25 So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? 26 I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” 27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” 30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.

This one sentence that Jesus spoke - says it all...

(Luke 11:23)  He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters."

From this we see:
- the world hates Jesus, so they will hate believers (John 7:7, 15:18-19)
- people were accusing Jesus of being possessed (Mark 3:30)
- everyone is born with a sinful nature, therefore all belong to hell, UNTIL they choose to believe in Jesus the Son of God  (Luke 11:23-24)
- whoever is not on God's side, belongs on Satan's side (Matt.12:30, Luke 11:23)

Personal experience:  even after choosing to be on God's side and becoming a Christian (for all eternity, because we cannot lose our salvation), we still have choices to make every day, every hour, every second...

Our choice is quite "simple":  do things God's way, which is in God's will - - - or do things your own way, which is the world's way, which aligns with Satan's will.

In God's will, we will be "gathering", pulling together, building!  In Satan's will, we will be "scattering", dividing, destroying!

This struggle can be found within groups as well as within an individual.

I knew someone who had become a Christian as a child, but had decided to live a life that was contrary to God's will.  Finally the inner struggle was enough for him to realize that he needed to start living as he should in order to experience an inner peace again.

And I've certainly experienced that inner struggle.  Sometimes these can be on a smaller scale, as I'm doing "little" things my own way.  The turmoil may not be all that significant right away as one eases into something, and then that one "little" thing will grow or lead to another thing... Or with one really bad and rash decision, the war within your soul can hit you like a truck, causing you to wish for death!  And - - - there will not be any inner peace until you reconcile all of these sins, big or "small".

I've also experienced struggles within various Christian circles.  It's so easy for any one of us to do something that becomes self-serving.  And there you'll have it - - - conflict!  The answer will always be that everyone involved needs to search their hearts and seek out God's will.  Fortunately, I have seen conflicts resolved.  I've seen HUGE conflicts resolved!!!  So we have to know to hang in there and not run away!!!

Today's takeaway:  I think if we realize that when we are doing something that is NOT encouraging, edifying or building up - then we are aligning ourselves with Satan's will.  When we see it from that angle, we can understand the gravity of our decisions!

Oh how thankful I am that God is so patient and we have God's grace!!!...

(James 4:1-6)  What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 

(Romans 6:12-23)  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Romans 15:1-13)  Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written,
Therefore I will give praise to You among the GentilesAnd I will sing to Your name.”
10 Again he says,
Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people.”
11 And again,
Praise the Lord all you GentilesAnd let all the peoples praise Him.”
12 Again Isaiah says,
There shall come the root of JesseAnd He who arises to rule over the GentilesIn Him shall the Gentiles hope.”
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.