- - Endorsed
- - Indifferent
- - Contested
|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| A Roaring Lion...
|Satan is not described in scripture as a the red-faced, goatee sporting, horned, pitch-fork wielding, and caustically clever lord of hell. He was one of God's angels - a power,... a principality if you will; he was certainly one of the most exalted beings ever created by God. It is almost a cliché therefore to remark at how great his fall must have been, or to speak of his fall as being primarily the end result of having admired himself instead of God. In fact, other than mentioning it here, I expect I will not mention it again in this post.
Satan's rebellion was not something he was born into. Here was a creature who knowledge of God was (arguably) unsurpassed in creation. His denial of God's rule in his life was an act of such cosmic profundity, that even in expressing it with our greatest and most severe language, we couldn't really come close to describing the fullness of it. To look upon God, not just upon his glory, but upon the character of God and to look upon oneself - however well wrought one might be - to deny God's rule with such a full knowledge implies that Satan really did believe that God didn't love him, and that God was not going to give him what Satan felt he deserved from God. It was not simply saying that he (Satan) didn't believe God would come through well enough to satisfy - but implicit in this denial of God is the certainty (at least in Satan's heart) that God was not for him - and if not for him, God was against him.
I can't paint a picture black enough to capture that - but the best thing I can compare it too is that Satan didn't merely disagree with God, but hated God for not giving him (Satan) what he felt he deserved.
Perhaps God allowed this depravity to take root in such a powerful creature in order to allow the manifestation of God's own glory. It is a difficult thing for a man to realize, but once realized it is easily held - but it is difficult at first to understand that God is -worthy- of all honor and glory. That means that when God puts His own glory on display, however that glory is displayed - it is not simply just and good to do so, but to fail to display that glory would be a crime against God.
We have no category for that sort of glory. Glory that is so glorious that if one failed to manifest it, it would be a crime?? How do we process that kind of thing. We tend to reserve that kind of language for hyperbole (exaggeration), "Your pie is so tasty it is a crime not to share the recipe with humanity!" But God's glory is such that it would be unrighteous to leave it undeclared - and even unrighteous to declare it improperly.
So it is, I reason, not impossible that God, in order to manifest his glory, may well have allowed such a principality and power as Satan to usurp God's reign over creation, in order to allow that one free reign to do and try everything within his considerable ability to thwart, destroy, or derail God's plan - and given all opportunity throughout the entirely length and breadth of creation - in time, and in influence, and in power and dominion - and having given such freedom to this one, to still demonstrate that God's will and God's purpose stand firm and unchanged no matter how this one, and all who would follow him, rail and rage against God's will.
I do suggest this as a doctrine to be studied or applied, but only mention its possibility as an introduction to an encouragement.
You see Satan is not passively waiting until judgment day, but he is a being who is bent on derailing creation, bent of thwarting God's will. If it were possible for Satan to find or prove some flaw in God, perhaps he could justify himself before God, and so it is not unthinkable that Satan is racing against time itself to try and use his power and influence to destroy something God has said will be. If God can be shown to be wrong in anything, Satan may have a legal case for his own autonomy, his own self rule, and ultimately - his own salvation.
I believe there is no being in all creation working harder to generate his own salvation than Satan, but he is not trying to generate that salvation by doing good deeds and atoning for his rebellion - rather he is raging against God for all he is worth in the (speculation alert) hope that by thwarting the will of God he may demonstrate that God is not in fact just, that God's judgment is not in fact perfect, and that God therefore has no claim to condemn Satan.
It behooves our enemy therefor to decimate our faith. To snatch even one from God's hand would be a victory for our enemy, and the death of God. Not that God would die per sé, but that the Perfection that is God would be shown to be imperfect.
Okay. Thus ends speculation and begins the rest. Please don't read any authority into these thoughts - it is just one possible explanation amongst thousands that serves this purpose - it shows that Satan is not passive with saints, but bent on our destruction - that he isn't in it just to make God look bad, or because he doesn't like God and thinks hurting us will bruise God's arm or something - he is in this like a cunning beast - a cosmic murderer who is willing to do -anything- to destroy faith, and the people who have it - not just to kill us bodily, but to rob us of the eternal life God gives to His children.
The scriptures say that our adversary (the devil) prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. He isn't seeking to make us do bad things - he is out to devour us, to consume us, to utterly render into falsehood what is presently genuine - and he is not some wild beast that runs on instinct but the most cunning thing in all creation - no man is more intelligent, no man more insightful, no man more wise, more capable. We are outclassed in every way by our adversary, who seeks to devour us.
The world system is not randomly coming together, but progressively consistently designed to destroy faith and everything that would strengthen faith. Does the bible tell parents to instruct their children? Now the schools do that - and guess whose agenda they follow? It isn't like Satan shows up at the board meetings - but his influence is felt through little nudges here and there in society. Isn't it awful the way some people hate homosexuals? They beat them and kill them - why? Because they are different? What if they don't have a choice? What if their difference is genetic? Aren't we awful for punishing people if what we are punishing them for is not some thing they choose to do out of rebellion but rather is something they have no choice in? Yes the bible says that homosexuality is an abomination - but wasn't it written by misogynistic, homophobic cavemen? What should we expect? Haven't we matured as a race? Haven't we moved beyond these tribal fears and ignorant cultural taboos? And even if homosexuality isn't genetic - who are we, after all, to determine for others what is acceptable in their life? Are they not free to live how they desire? Ought not we to live and let live? Surely if there is a god in heaven he would not want us to mistreat one another...?
Do you hear the devil in that? Can you not here him in the garden (for we are not ignorant of his designs) saying, "Surely you will not die...."
You see that is the age old lie of the Devil, and it permeates everything. Do you want to test if a thing is demonic - see if you can apply that Satanic phrase to it - "Surely you will not die..."
Let us begin with the gospel. Do you know what is wrong with the common gospel message today? It begins with the philosophy that surely you will not die.
Do you not see it? Consider the presentation:
Evangelist: Dear sir, are you aware that Jesus died to bring -you- into heaven?
Sinner: I have heard something like that. I know John 3:16 has something to do with it.
Evangelist: That's right - Jesus died so that you could go to heaven. Would you like to pray with me right now so that you can receive eternal life?
Evangelist: Repeat after me, Dear God, I am a sinner, and I repent of my sin, and I believe that Jesus is the son of God who died and whom you raised again and I declare before you that I believe these things, and I want you to ask you to please let me go to heaven when I die, in Jesus name, amen.
Sinner: repeats prayer (well,... mostly)
Evangelist: Did you say the prayer believing it?
Sinner: Er, I have always known that Jesus was the son of God and whatnot - so yeah, I mean, if that is how you do it, I certainly did it...
Evangelist: Well then son, welcome to the kingdom - you are now a Christian! Congratulations. Here is a pamphlet that tells you how to get to our church, and here is a new testament. Please read the book of John to ground yourself in scripture. You will probably feel some doubt, but don't worry about that it's normal. Here, let me write the date in your bible so you can know when God saved you.
Sinner: Hey, great!
Evangelist: Now that you are a believer, perhaps you should cut that hair of yours and maybe lose the nose ring too. It might give the wrong impression.
Sinner: Um, okay... (thinking: if that is what it takes to keep a lock on going to heaven...)
Do you see what is missing? What is implied? There is no condemnation. He isn't being saved from condemnation, he is being promised eternal candy. The implication of this gospel is that sin isn't really a problem, in fact there is no problem - heaven is just something God offers to people because he is a nice guy.
But if the presentation began with the evangelist saying - hey, what do you think scripture says about sin? We all agree it is bad - but do you know what God is going to do with sinners? The Devil told Eve that even though God said that on the day she sinned she would surely die - yet Satan told her that surely she would not die. But the moment she ate of the fruit and the moment that Adam ate of the fruit - they died, not physically, but spiritually. The part of them that had access to God spiritually was denied that proximity - and let us not dice words here - God is life, to be cast out of life is to inherit death. Adam and Eve inherited a condemnation - they had their physical life - and even that would be lived in exile from God's presence (and we inherit this exile which is our curse) - but more than this - they were condemned to never be in fellowship with God again - that is, they were consigned to an eternal damnation because of their sin. Do you know that your sin consigns you to an eternity of wrath and condemnation as well? Did you know that your sin is not simply bad, but that it is in fact hard evidence that condemns you eternally? You are not simply a bad person, you are corrupted by sin, and unfit for heaven because of it. You cannot go to heaven no matter how you try and reform yourself - you are lost, eternally lost, and you are lost right now as sure as there is a God - you are without hope in this world. Did God truly say... YES, God has truly said - you are condemned already you son of hell, condemned with a capital "C" - condemned so that every breath you take brings you one breath closer to an eternity in a torment you cannot imagine. If you drop dead right now, your body will perish, but that eternal part of you that was made in the eternal image of God will go to judgment, and nothing can be done for you after that. God's mercy and tolerance will not be available to you - you will be before a righteous judge, and the penalty for your sins will certainly be brought upon you, and if you stand before God's judgment a sinner, you will be condemned. Period.
Does God really say you will go to hell? Yes Virginia, yes, God didn't just say it, He promised it - He will pay out the wages of sin in full.
Dear reader - Satan deceived sinless Eve with this ploy, "surely God won't slay you" - and if it worked on a sinless person, imagine how well it works on you who have already sinned, and who live in a world saturated by sin. The enemy is not playing games, he wants to keep those whom God calls away from the gospel - he wants to keep them in their sin - he wants God's children to believe that they needed deal with sin, that God is sooooo loving that surely He will cannot impose hell upon a person who is as good as the next guy, and tries to do right as best as he is able. No, that kind of God would be cruel...
This new gospel, the one where we needn't recognize our condemnation (and therefore we need not repent...), this vacuous gospel is filling congregations with worldly, nominal, unconverted "Christians" - and if you get enough of these people together in a democratically governed church they are the ones giving the church direction... We do well to shudder...
Yet my post is not intended to discuss the vacuous gospel, but to remind us of the designs of the enemy - to paint as very real, and very active - him who devours; to remind believers that our enemy is working tirelessly to cripple faith in individuals, and in congregations, and to discuss the means by which he accomplishes that.
To be sure, we are a worldly culture. The world (and all the lusts thereof) is pumped daily into our homes through television, DVDs, radio, and through the secularizing of our children in the public school systems. Through a tactical, coordinated, and uniform attack against the family, against the church, and against Christianity. But it is not invisible - we see it happening, and for the most part we allow it. How? Well, how many of you have tossed out cable television? How many of you volunteer at your children's schools? How many of you even know what is being taught at school - not just in the classroom, but through peer pressures? Our children are being assimilated into the world system, and what little time we have with them we spend watching television together, or maybe not even that. Other people bring up our little ones while we pursue a bigger house, or better stuff - because, after all, God surely doesn't want us to suffer living any poorer than the next guy right? Surely God doesn't want us to spend all our time in religious activities? God can play a role in our life, but hey - it is -our- life right??
Ah the insidious nature of self and self love, self promotion, self indulgence, self deception. No one who loves the world or the things in the world - and by that I mean no one who pursues these things - will be able to defend that pursuit on judgment day. Look, if you are a believer, you need to know that the enemy is at work right now, in your life, through powers and principalities, through systems that he set in motion, through deception, lies, and in accord with the desires of your flesh - to bring to nothing your faith.
But we are not without hope, and we are not without help.
First we must see what is going on, and understand that the enemy is not sleeping, nor passive, but working to destroy you - not just Christians in general, but -you- personally. He is not passive in his war against you, but is bent towards it with a passion that spans millenniums, yet for all that, his battle plan is decidedly simple - Has God really said ...?
Do you know where your faith is weak? It is weak in those areas where your brain says, yes this is true, but you are unwilling to act on it. That is, your brain says yes, but in spite of that, you refuse to act on it. The drowning man may well believe the life preserver will save him - but unless he puts it on, he will by no means stay afloat. So it is that the enemy is in the business of keeping believers dog paddling for as long as possible - either obscuring the life preserver, or bringing confusion, or whatever it takes to keep the believer threading water for as long as possible.
All metaphors aside. The devil doesn't want believers to know that he is working against them. The devil doesn't want believers to come to begin living in Christ - He is devouring faith every day - robbing believers of victory, or peace, of joy, though the same lies - surely God hasn't said...
Try these out. Do they sound familiar?:
Surely God hasn't said that -all- your sins are forgiven?
Surely God doesn't accept you just because you are a Christian?
Surely you aren't a real Christian - you still sin don't you?
Surely you are a hypocrite and a pretender?
Surely God will not accept you as your child because you are a sinner?
Surely salvation means that you feel good and holy every moment of your life?
Surely salvation means that you will never sin again?
Surely if you are saved you would experience a mystical presence or something?
Surely if you were God's child he would answer your prayers in exactly the way you expect?
Surely if you were a real believer, you could heal people?
Surely if you were a real believer you could do some sort of miracles?
Surely if you were a real believer your old self would suddenly stop desiring sin?
Surely there is something wrong with your faith because you are not maturing as fast as so and so?
Surely if you were right with God you would never feel guilty about sin?
I mean, I could go on - the bottom line is that the devil is at work in the world, and has an ally in our flesh - he knows the corruption that is in our flesh, and his greatest attack against our faith - the means by which he devours us, is by causing us to agree with our flesh against what God's word tells us is true of ourselves.
You see, in the garden, the fruit on the forbidden tree was not decorated with skulls and crossbones; no black steam hissed out of it when it was eaten, and Adam and Eve didn't immediately spit out some horrid tasting things as they partook of it. There was no outward indication that there was anything special about this fruit at all - except what God had said one thing about it, and the devil another. So we find ourselves today.
Christian, God has said that we are acceptable to Him in Christ, the Beloved - and the devil is saying that we are not acceptable to him, but must make ourselves acceptable to him because of all our sin. All outward signs seem to agree with the devil and not with God. We make a claim in Christ, but we still find sin in ourselves - surely God cannot accept us? Oh dear saint - hear the word of the Lord - HE LOVED US WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS. Would that our eyes were opened to see that our only hope is in Christ - and not, as the devil would have us believe (in devouring us) in ourselves to "make things right".
There is a saying that says, "six-pack abs are made in the kitchen, and not the gym" - which is true. If you want someone to see the abs that are underneath all the belly fat, you don't try and get ginormous abs that protrude through your gelatinous gut, instead you cut the calories until your body fat goes down low enough to see what is already there.
In a similar way, mature Christians are not "made by making themselves sinless" they are made by trusting that their relationship with God depends not on them, but on Him, and on His promises made in His word. Not on feelings and fancy, but on facts. The devil would have wear ourselves out on that great rat wheel -- running in the flesh -- trying to turn stones into bread to prove we are the sons of God. He would have us exhaust ourselves leaping off temple heights to see if angels will bear us up and prove thereby that we are sons of God. He would devour us by causing us not to take God at His word but to set that aside and pursue certainty through experiences and whatnot.
Listen: Don't let the devil, or his minions have their way with you. this isn't a call to toss out your tv, radio, school, and all forms of worldly entertainment (well, not ostensibly at least) - it is a call to be on guard for the devil is swallowing up people like you ever day. If you feel his teeth, good gravy, your not going to climb out of that maw in your own strength - you must humble yourself under the mighty hand of God. That doesn't mean thinking less of yourself, it means learning how truly useless you are and how truly dependent upon God a Christian is supposed to be. Humbling yourself is not achieved by imagining yourself to be worthless - it is achieved by believing God is saving you, and truly letting go of trying to save yourself. So long as you are in the business of saving yourself, the devil will continue to chew you up. But let your faith soar in the knowledge that God is saving you no matter what the circumstances - and the devil will flee brother, sister.. the devil will flee - because he will have nothing in you to work with...
Do you get it?
Labels: Satan's ways
posted by Daniel @
I should have put a length warning at the beginning. Sorry about that.
Thanks Chris! I thought no one was reading anymore... :^)
Thanks for the encouragement within this post. I struggle with self-condemnation more than anyone I know. Maybe I'm not so alone in my struggle.
I have to preach the gospel to myself every day.