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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
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.
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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.
- C-Train

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
 
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Monday, May 26, 2008
Why I like the NASB and the ESV translations...
My first bible was your standard, black, large print, KJV. I got it for free when I signed a card (at the age of 8) during a Billy Graham crusade. Say this prayer, sign this card, now you're a believer, here kid, here's a bible.

Awesome.

I didn't read it much, but I had a bible, and that seemed cool to me. I wasn't saved of course, but I did associate myself with church and Christianity.

My next bible was a paperback NIV New Testament that someone gave to me shortly thereafter I am not really sure who gave it to me, but it was easier to read for me, though that ease didn't translate into actual reading. It was a dust collector just like the KJV.

Years past, and one day I heard the gospel "for real" - and gave my life to Jesus. I didn't buy any bibles, but had a renewed interest in scripture, right up until the next day when I sinned, and believed that by doing so I had not only lost my salvation, but could never get it back.

Ten years past. I sinned a lot, got married, and began to start a family. That was when the Lord put someone in my life who had actually read the bible and believed it - and this same person showed me that I hadn't lost my salvation for ever, but that I had been fed a lie and believed it to my own misfortune. After I learned that there was still hope for me, I went out and bought myself a "good news bible" (TEV) and began reading it. I was quite amazed to learn that many of the superstitions about God that I had believed, were just that - superstitions. As I began to grow, and lear, I was astonished to discover that my translation was not the same as other people's translations - that in some places it was even radically different!

I thought - what is this? Which translation is right? I mean, I wasn't reading God's word in order to impress other people, I just wanted to know what God had to say. If there were an hundred different English translations, I wanted to know which one was the most accurate. I think that is why I wanted to learn the biblical languages. I simply did not "trust" any translation, given that they could radically disagree on the way a text was translated. Of course, I have to trust the translation when a passage surpasses my own (limited) knowledge of the original language - but I mean only that my ability to be satisfied by a translation is proportional to my certainty of its accuracy - and unless I know firsthand that it is accurate, I am at the mercy of well-meaning, but often conflicting opinions about which translation is best.

When I expressed my desire to study the biblical languages, I remember that I was immediately accused of being unspiritual. I heard again and again, that old smug phrase, that "the only reason a person studies the original language is because he doesn't want to do what the text tells him to do in the English!"

It is kinda sad, but I don't expect it is all that rare: people who desire to study the scriptures in the original languages are often accused of doing so out of arrogance, rebellion, or both. I find that the loudest objections come from a rather vocal but small minority. I speak only from my own experiences, but the attitude that I have met with from time to time is was one of "confused piety" - for these seemed to regard as holy and humble their own accepting at face value their particularly favored translation. Such would not regard the Bereans as noble for examining the scriptures to see if they said what was being attributed to them - but would rather regard them as arrogant doubters who only checked the scriptures because they were unwilling to take Paul's word for it. I suppose therefore that I am of that variety that refuses to take man's word for anything.

Not that I thought everyone else was wrong, but that I knew my own self to be so fallible, I began to regard all men as equally fallible, as individuals and even collectively. Do we not regard those faiths which disagree with our own as being in error? How many millions are being misled not only daily, but yearly, and how many false teachings span centuries? Surely there is room in the rational mind to press a matter beyond its face value and see if it holds true or not. It is, in my opinion, no virtue to be naive and gullible. Is there not wisdom in the multitude of counselors? But if we accept everything at face value, we never need consult anyone else again.

To be sure, I expect anyone who is promoting naivety and gullibility as virtuous is probably either knowingly or ignorantly, inspiring people to follow them and what they say instead of follow Christ and what he says.

When I began to examine scripture itself critically I began to take very seriously verses like 2 Timothy 1:13. Here Paul instructs Timothy to retain the same patterns of speech that he had heard Paul use. That is, I see scripture itself teaching that the word of God is so profoundly important, that in handling it we ought not to even change the pattern of words - that is, we ought not to present the truth in a different way that Paul (and by extension, all of scripture, and by further extension, the Holy Spirit) originally delivered it. That is a powerful argument for the supremacy of literal translations over such things as dynamically equivalent translations, etc.

If God's word is so weighty that Paul instructs Timothy to make sure that he didn't even change the manner in which Paul had expressed these things - I reason that the text supports the view that we do well to pursue the most literal translation available, and by contrast, that we would do very poorly indeed to embrace translations that massage the text for us, or to take a laissez faire approach and let be what will be. This was the very thing Paul was instructing Timothy to avoid - don't take liberties with the text - don't word it differently, don't find "better" ways to say it - just repeat it as you heard it, adding nothing to it, and changing nothing of it.

I should say at this point, that I regard the KJV as an excellent, literal translation of its underlaying texts.

Though I don't regard the underlaying texts as the most accurate - having studied to my own satisfaction the science of textual criticism, I am satisfied that the 27th revision of the Nestle-Aland eclectic text is a very accurate representation of the original Greek, and as such I am inclined to favor Bibles that are not only highly literal, but use what I believe to be the most accurate NT texts around.

To this end, I regard the NASB as perhaps the most literal translation, and close behind it, the ESV.

I don't really care for the NIV, and I confess, when I first began to become convinced of the NASB as the best translation out there - I became something of a translation snob. I remember with shame looking down my nose at one of the older members in a previous church who was using an NIV. I don't know if my open disdain was noted, but it was certainly unbridled - and God be praised, I am not so exalted in my own opinions today.

Many of you know that I like to read different translations of the bible. I have read more than half a dozen different translations cover to cover - but I find that my favorite is always the NASB. I know it has been described as a "wooden" translation by those who desire a more flowery translation - but frankly, I like it. I like the clarity of it.

I still use and compare many other translations, and I think it is good to do so, especially if one doesn't have an exhaustive dictionary library of the original languages, as often some nuance may come out in one translation that is less obvious in another. But by and large, if I had to choose, it would be NASB out front, next the ESV, and after that I don't know. I don't have to make choices like that so I don't spend a lot of time thinking about it.

My encouragement to you, reader, is that you take to heart the words of Paul - that we regard the "patterns of words" Paul delivered to Timothy, and by extension, Paul used everywhere in his own writings - as foundational in our evaluation of a translation. I still read other translations, but when I make doctrinal distinctions - I am careful to plumb, not the chaff, but the wheat - that is, I don't turn to a translation that is known for its flowery dynamic equivalence when I want doctrine, no, I get my hands on the most literal translation I can, and deal from there.

If I have any advice for new "bible readers" it is this: Don't let other people chew your food for you. God's word is most effective when it has not been watered down for easy consumption. Get a hold of the most literal translation you can find - do the research yourself - then read, read, read.

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posted by Daniel @ 10:51 AM   19 comment(s)
Friday, May 23, 2008
A Word of Advice
By now you have heard that Steve Curtis Chapman's adopted five year old daughter was killed tragically in an accident when her older brother, not knowing she was behind the vehicle, drove over her.

Here is my advice, and I give it to those of you who have heard of this tragedy, who have felt an empathetic sickness in your stomach because of how horrible it is to imagine such an awful thing, -- and have pushed it out of mind.

Good gravy, don't suppress that sort of ache, God gave you something of himself when he made you able to feel - don't swallow that down just because it isn't pleasant. But get alone somewhere and weep for this family, weep and pray. Mourn with those who mourn, if you are able.

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posted by Daniel @ 4:36 PM   1 comment(s)
Friday, May 16, 2008
Democratic Church Bible verses...
Matthew 18:19 -
"Again I say to you, that if two out of three of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
NOTE: the red, bold, italic text is not part of the original text, but was added to illustrate (in hyperbole) how scripture might be worded if a democratic majority was, in fact, synonymous with "unity in the Spirit"
posted by Daniel @ 12:12 PM   1 comment(s)
How To Get Sanctified (In Fewer Words Than Normal)
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? - Romans 6:16 [ESV]


The word translated "into" here is the preposition 'εις'. It isn't a poor translation or anything, but one nuance can be expressed in the word 'until' or even 'toward'.

Our default state is not spiritual, but carnal. By nature our will is obedient to sin, and only to sin. When a person believes, the Spirit of Christ indwells them - but this does not eradicate the sin in us, nor our desire to obey it. When scripture says that by the Spirit we are to put to death the deeds of the body, it is the prescription for abundant life.

You see, it works like this: obey God. Stop obeying sin. Don't do it thinking that the obedience itself is meritorious - the purpose of this obedience is not to get you into heaven, it is to exalt Christ in you. Your submission (obedience) is not the righteousness by which you will be justified (we are justified by the righteousness of Christ), but your obedience -is- a necessary component of your walk with God, it is the means by which God allows the righteousness of Christ to flow out of you.

That is why you must die to your own desires, so that in your life Christ will be lifted up and when visible through your life, people -will- be drawn to Him.

Thus, don't wait around for a spiritual experience, or for feelings - submit yourself and continue to do so until Christ's righteousness is formed in you. That is called sanctification. It doesn't justify you, but it sure makes you happy.

You have a choice: continue to obey sin until it kills you, or continue to surrender your will to God until you are righteous.

Don't give up Christian, you -will- overcome.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:13 AM   3 comment(s)
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Fishing for truth
In the gospels we read about Christ ministering to a crowd on the shore of the lake of Gennesaret. Recall that Simon (Peter) had been fishing all night long on one of the boats present at the time, and hadn't caught a thing, and now the boats stood empty on the shore, as the men who made their living fishing these waters were on the shore washing their empty nets.

Recall that Christ got into one of the boats (Simon's) and asked to be set out a little from the land. Christ then preached to the people gathered there, and when He had concluded He turned to Simon and bade him to put down his nets into the deep and pull in a catch of fish.

What a picture. Simon, with all the authority of a [1] a professional fisherman, [2] a man intimately familiar with the lake, and [3] someone who had spent the whole night fruitlessly fishing these very shores,, Simon began to explain to this Rabbi the unlikelihood of them catching any fish at this time.

Yet when Simon decided to humor the request something happened: Every fish in the lake of Gennesaret spontaneously decided to jump into Simon's net.

Question: Did Christ have anything to do with the fish jumping into Simon's net, or was it just that Christ had knowledge that a bunch of fish would jump into Simon's net?

Can you picture the impact this would have had on Christ saying, "I will make you a fisher of men?" I mean, Christ tells him to let the net down after a night of nothing - and suddenly, even though Simon has fished these waters all his life and knows that this is not the time to be fishing - even though Simon knows that they will not catch anything - yet he obeys and the nets are full to bursting - then Christ hits him with the "I will make you a fisher of men" line... I mean, I don't wonder that Simon (Peter) said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" - I think Simon was saying, I can't be a fisher of men, I am a great big sinner. I mean Moses had his excuses when God commissioned him, so here I think we are seeing Simon's reaction. What me?? Um, I can't!

Yet the fact that the fish had filled the net, not according to Simon's fishing prowess, but according to the sovereign authority of God - it stood to reason that if Christ could fill that empty fishing net he could certainly make a sinner like Simon into a fisher of men. Do you see how that would have been an undeniable impetus?

Simon was a fisherman, but the fish didn't fill his net because of his great fishing ability. In fact, all his fishing wisdom counted for nothing in this catch. The lesson, for Simon at least, was that it wasn't his fishing ability that would catch the fish, it was Christ who would put the fish in the net (metaphorically speaking of course).

Did the fish have free will? Of course they did. But they used that free will to respond in exactly the way Christ intended them to respond to his call. They came, they jumped in the nets, and filled them to bursting - not because they were zombies, but because when God calls, who can resist?

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posted by Daniel @ 12:37 PM   5 comment(s)
Friday, May 09, 2008
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?

Sinner: Sure!

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...)

etc.

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?

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posted by Daniel @ 1:22 PM   6 comment(s)
 
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