July 31, 2010
So why does God condemn people who remain in the Dark Kingdom when they have never heard of Jesus –the Door out?
Well, we could ask this same kind of question: Why have people died of diseases they don’t know they have? Why should they have to die when no one told them they had a disease and no one even offered them medicine for it?
The simple answer is that we live in a fallen world. It’s a world that has sickness, sadness, death, and evil. That’s the way it is. And it’s that way because Satan usurped God’s Paradise –and by means of human choice. Humans gave it to him. Yes, Satan did it through deception, but that’s an age old problem, isn’t it? Deception. Sin looks great. It looks beautiful. It looks like the way to freedom. But under a thin layer –is misery and death.
So it was, that humans turned from God’s simple command to not eat from a certain tree, and instead turned to do just what He warned them against. Why? Because humans love to do whatever they want. And why did God make the choice available? Because He doesn’t want robots. Would you? Would it be true love if we forced someone to love us –to have a relationship with us– if they didn’t have any choice in the matter? Of course not. Therefore God chose to give us a choice.
Now, what about those who have never heard of the salvation God extends through Jesus? Yes… it can be a question from a genuine heart –those who weep over the lost. But I have found that most people ask the question in order to distract themselves from the issue at hand: “How have I myself responded to the salvation message?” For these types don’t want to face their own sin –their own rebellion– against God, or face the reasons that they refuse to abide in Christ or obey His words. So they use this question to deflect the conversation from their own depravity by trying to throw blame upon God for being “unfair”.
First of all, we know that God is fair. Scripture tells us that repeatedly. So if we’re believers, we are to trust God’s Word even when we don’t completely understand. But for even non-Christians –they too have a built-in conscience that informs them of good versus evil, and that the Creator –by the beauty, quality, and intricacy of creation itself– is awesome, powerful, and good. It is evident that He has set up a lovely world for us to enjoy. It is also evident that He has created in humans (even animals) the ability to love, to nurture, and to want peace. We all know that these desires are in people when they want good, but that they are absent and corrupted by those who abide in evil.
So if God has given us all a conscience (Rom. 2:15), and He has revealed Himself through creation (1:19,20), then to not ask God for more light and revelation and help to please Him, is already a sin. The only reason a person would not ask and seek, is because they really don’t like God. (v. 21) Not because He is unfair or mean (like they accuse), but because they intrinsically know that He is Boss. And people don’t want a Boss –especially One who tells them they are to be humble, kind, and selfless –obedient to what I call “The Law of Ultimate Love and Self-sacrifice.” Gulp. That’s hard. For humans not only have a deep craving to do whatever they want, but they can hardly stand to think of giving up indulgences and pleasures the world offers. So, once again, everyone just chooses themselves over God. They choose to cater to self, not God. They choose to gratify self, not others. They choose to cheat, lie, lust, and take –because it benefits them –not God or others. They choose… they choose… they choose… See? They choose sin. In other words, they’ve chosen to hang on to the disease.
People who suspect they have a physical disease may refuse to get it checked out. This could be called “suppressing the truth.” And people do this all the time with their spiritual malady. They suppress the Truth, and making up excuses –like blaming God or others– their disease only worsens. 2 Thes. 2:10-12 says that those who refuse to love Truth will perish. And Rom. 1:18 says that men “suppress the Truth by their wickedness.”
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the Truth comes into the light…” (John 3:19-21) Oh, let’s note that: “Whoever lives by the Truth comes into the light…” And who is the light? Jesus. And what is the light? Righteousness. Where is the light? The Kingdom of God.
So can a person come into the light who has never heard about Jesus? Well, God has ordained that we are to preach the Gospel, and that that is how they are to hear and believe. (Rom. 10:14-17) And that if we don’t warn of God’s wrath against sin, and they die in their sin, God says, “I will hold you accountable for his blood.” (Ezek. 3:18) However, if there was no way the Gospel could reach them, God is able to judge the heart. (Rom. 2:16) Most people do remain self-seeking, rejecting the little light they’ve so far been given, but God knows all things. He knows if a person has responded to His voice in the creation (Rom. 10:18 / Ps. 19:4) –His glory revealed in the skies. (Ps. 19:1)
God is merciful. He is abundantly loving, compassionate, and merciful. And as James 2:13 says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” And Rom. 2:7 says, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.” Yes, “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:8) That’s a promise. The big problem, though, is that most will not ask, seek, or knock. Jer. 29:13,14 say, “‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity.'” That’s also a promise. But again, the problem is that most will not search for Him with all their heart. For just like any true, pure lover, God will not accept a divided heart. So most never find Him. For most never really sought Him out.
If they had, He’d have moved mountains to bring them more Light.
This is why those who don’t come into Jesus remain in the Dark Kingdom –that kingdom that is already under condemnation.
July 30, 2010
What does the Word of God say concerning the destination of those who do not repent of their sins and who do not trust in the salvation extended to us all through the sacrifice, blood, and resurrection of Christ Jesus? Well, not relying on human permission to do so, Scripture makes it abundantly clear: God’s wrath remains on these people. Here’s just one verse out of many, and I’ll quote it from four versions:
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (NIV)
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (NASB)
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (NKJV)
“The one believing in the Son has life eternal; but the one disobeying the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (Interlinear Greek-English)
As is also the case with a language I grew up in, one word is used in the Greek to mean “believing enough to obey.” So whether a person disbelieves or disobeys Christ, God’s wrath does –what? It abides, rests, and remains on that person. For something to remain on someone means it is already there. This is in agreement with what Jesus teaches in verse 18 of the same chapter: “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already…”
This whole world is already a condemned world for we know that “the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin” (Gal. 3:22) and is “under the control of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19) It became imprisoned and condemned when Satan usurped it due to man’s choice to disobey God in the Garden. And humans continue to disobey God. They continuously turn from that which is right, kind, selfless, and true, and they lie, cheat, lust, and take. Their hearts are not pure. No one’s is –unless God washes it clean. Which God will do –when He puts a new heart and spirit in a person by putting into them His Spirit. (Ezek. 36:25-27) But what will His Spirit do? He will move the born anew one to follow God’s commands. (v. 27)
This is why 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” But if this does not happen, then as Jesus says in John 3:3,5, “Unless a man is born again / born from above / born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” There it is. –A person must be born of the Spirit by believing in Christ and by having a heart and spirit change –a change that will cause obedience to Christ’s commands. Otherwise that person will not enter God’s Kingdom. For believing is not enough. Even the demons believe! (James 2:19) It’s about –believe, repent, obey. (Acts 26:20 & Mark 1:15) And to obey means to trustingly and faithfully follow.
Jesus teaches in John 3:14 that just as the bronze serpent was lifted up in Moses’ time for the Israelites to trust in for their healing (Num. 21:8,9), everyone who wants to be saved from sin’s penalty and deadly power must continually look to His atoning sacrifice on the cross. For as the Israelites were bitten by snakes for their rebellion, all humankind has turned in rebellion from God’s righteous decrees, have thus been bitten by sin’s power, and have thus been condemned with the eternal death penalty. As Rom. 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death…” …But the verse finishes with the Good News! –“…but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Can salvation come through any other means? God’s Word says blatantly: “No.” As Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else…” and as Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” He also says in 12:48, “There is a Judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words…” and in 8:24, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am, you will indeed die in your sins.”
So it is only through Jesus that we are reconciled to the Holy God. But does He want everyone to be saved? Yes. (2 Peter 2:9 & John 3:16,17) As 1 Tim. 2:3-6 says, “…God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the Truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.” Unfortunately though, not everyone will be saved. In fact, Jesus makes it clear that most will not, for He says that the Gate and Way are narrow and that only a few find it. (Matt. 7:13,14) He lets us know that He is the only Gate of salvation (John 10:1,9), the only Way (v. 4), and the only Life (v. 10), and that if we do not eat of Him (spiritually), we will have no eternal life. (John 6:48-58)
So, what about those who have never had the chance to hear about this narrow way of salvation? Well, God’s Word is clear on this subject. It informs us:
1. Humans are prisoners of sin
2. Humans are under Satan’s control
3. Humans are under God’s wrath
4. Jesus paid the ransom, turning God’s wrath away from those that put their trust in Christ and follow Him
5. Humans must hear about this Good News in order to come into Christ and be saved
“Yes, yes,” you say. “But why does God condemn people for remaining in the prison –if they have never heard about The Way of escape?”
I’ll finish my answer tomorrow.
July 29, 2010
Concerning the question about why God created humans in spite of Him knowing that most would not turn to Him, but instead to sin, and would thus be condemned…
This is probably the most difficult question I have ever wrestled with myself. And I really have not come up with anything that answers “why”. –Kind of like Job who never got from God an answer of why, but only a rebuke basically consisting of, “Who are you, Job, to think you can question the Almighty whose power, splendor, and knowledge are way beyond your comprehension?!” (Job 38-41) On the other hand, we do know that God also commended Job’s words about Him, while stating that his critical friends were the ones who spoke error. (Job 42:7)
Can we question God? I certainly believe we can. But the problem in questioning Him comes when we refuse His answer. Sometimes He answers, but since we may have a preconceived idea of what the answer should be, we’ve already closed our ears to the Truth He speaks. This shows that we have not asked in reverence and humility, nor have we genuinely wanted the real answer –in case it is too hard to accept. Often God’s answer is, “That’s not for you to know.” For Jesus said similar several times to his followers. Furthermore, if we keep pestering Him, He will likely get completely silent on the matter, or at least say, “I’ve already told you.” If someone gets annoyed with God’s answer, that person’s sin of annoyance can easily grow into arrogance –which says, “You, God, do not meet my expectations of who You are supposed to be and how You are supposed to act in this world You supposedly created.” This is when it’s become a quarrel; and Isa. 45:9 warns, “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd… Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?'” Or, verse 11, “Do you question Me… or give Me orders…?”
Instead, we may do well, when we do not understand God’s ways… when we cannot figure out why… to say as David did in Ps. 131:1, “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Or as Job acknowledged, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3)
Am I saying we shouldn’t try to figure out the answer to the question many of us have: Why did God find it “worth it” to create humans when He knew most would end up in an eternity without Him? No. I’m just saying that to try to answer that one is going to be beyond our comprehension. I often say, “The difference between a human’s brain and a chicken’s brain… well, I compare a human’s ability to think and reason –with God’s ability to think and reason, and I end up with this: ‘It’s like a chicken trying to learn the computer.’ In other words: To fully understand God…? –It just isn’t going to happen. Not in this life.'”
So what can we answer about this question? We can say, God is good. I will trust in His goodness. For He is completely just, over-flowing with kindness and mercy, and He is LOVE itself. Scripture tells me all this; and I believe the Scripture. So I will trust that though it may appear unfair, it is not. It can’t be unfair, for God is not unfair. It is those in rebellion who want to hope that God is unfair. For then they give themselves the excuse to not obey Him. For me, though –His child– I do not need to know everything about God’s ways in order to know that all His ways are just.
Therefore, we do not base our beliefs on what we think should be the case, but on what Scripture says is fact. We know that God’s Word tells us that the only way for sinful man to be reconciled to the Holy God is through Jesus. And that every individual must acknowledge with their mouths and hearts that He is Lord and Savior of the world, and must also obey Him as the rightful King. (Phil. 2:10,11 & Jude 1:4 & Rev. 19:11-16) For as Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) And as Heb. 5:9 says, “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”
This leads into the question the guy at the bus stop had for me concerning people who’ve never heard the Gospel. That subject, unlike the one I’ve addressed tonight, is answerable by Scripture. So I’ll address it tomorrow.
July 28, 2010
I’m going to continue yesterday’s post for the next few days…
I mentioned that a guy I’d witnessed to yesterday was agitated that God would demand worship, because he feels that such a demand shows that God is horribly arrogant. What I replied to this, is that God is the most beautiful, amazing Being –more awesome than we can ever even begin to imagine with our finite brains– and that this is just a fact. And being that it’s a fact, God is merely inviting us to enjoy Him, praise Him, and worship Him –which is a high honor for us, an extreme privilege.
Do we not all have inside of us a desire to stand in awe of something majestic, beautiful, spectacular, “unbelievable”, or amazing…? Do we not all have a desire to experience spiritual enlightenment… incredible peace, comfort, joy, and love… communion with an amazing Being? We certainly do! (And if anyone does not, then they have indeed slipped far into the twisted, defiled world of darkness.)
So, to worship God… for Him to invite us to do so… is to be invited to get in on what all creation takes joy in doing. For He is a Majestic Ruler who far outweighs anything else gorgeous or wondrous. He is the Creator-King of the universe who can level every mountain with one word from His mouth, yet who graciously stoops to speak to a flea (us), saying, “I made you. I love you. Worship Me only.” He knows that we will worship something –for He created us to appreciate all that is good and beautiful, lovely and noble, wise and kind, pure and full of light. And nothing is all that –except Him. So if we don’t worship Him, we will turn to something to fill our desire for worship; and anything other than Him will then overpower us for our harm. Therefore, He is the only One worthy of worship.
This is why we are to worship God. It has nothing whatsoever to do with God being arrogant. He is not. And we know this from the example of Christ Jesus who He sent to earth to be our example (and our Savior). Jesus was perfectly submitted to the Heavenly Father in all He said (John 12:50) and did (14:31), and though He was God in bodily form (Col. 2:9), He made Himself nothing. (Phil. 2:7) This was total and perfect humility. –v. 8
Truthfully, I find it to be high arrogance for mere man to accuse God of being arrogant. He’s more awesome and incredible than words can describe. Yet He condescends to invite humans to speak with Him, dine with Him, petition Him, love on Him, adore Him, and worship Him. And to think that He already… before we do all this… loves us and cares about us… more than we can fathom.
July 27, 2010
God knows everything. He knows all that has happened, is happening, or ever will happen. He hears every word, sees every act, and reads every thought. Ps. 139:2-4 says, “… You perceive my thoughts from afar… You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD.”
This is comforting news. If He was not a good God, it wouldn’t be. But since He is all-good, then we can rest in the knowledge of knowing that nothing surprises Him, nothing is outside His control, and nothing comes into our life or the world without His permission. And especially for those of us who belong to Him, He is always working for our ultimate best.
Today, while evangelizing at the bus stops, I had some very remarkable conversations. So many precious people… –two (separate instances) even sang for me… another read to me the beautiful words of a Christian song he was writing… another hinted about my cross leather necklace –so I offered it to him; he was delighted and let me put in on him… others broke out in praise to the Lord at being reminded of His Word.
But one I was initially wanting to mention here, was about this guy who just couldn’t reconcile God’s sovereignty and our free choice. He was agitated that God would demand worship, insinuating that such a demand was the epitome of disgusting arrogance. He said that he also can’t accept that God, even while supposedly knowing that He’d be creating humans that would not worship Him, decided to create them anyway –knowing He’d be condemning most of them to Hell. He was incredulous that I would admit that I believe that everyone who does not trust in Christ does go to Hell –even if they’d never had the Gospel preached to them. Another thing that he said bothers him about it all, is that if God preordains everything, then it would mean that He preordains actions that would cause the one committing the action to come under His eternal wrath.
Well, there was much said… and he had many more concerns than just these… but I found it very sad. Sad, because though many of his questions were ones I too have grappled with in the past, it was really the Calvinistic perspective which he kept coming back to and couldn’t free himself from. And it’s sad because Calvinism does not answer people’s theological questions! Oh, it certainly pretends it does, but it really only creates more questions. And the doctrine is not honest with itself, for taken to its logical conclusion, it must say things that are absolutely contrary to who God reveals Himself as in His Word. (For example, by following logic, the Calvinist must finally say that God does evil Himself and that He gets glory –even pleasure– by sending people to Hell.)
The questions this guy had were legitimate. But the problem, was that he wouldn’t listen to the answers I gave. In fact, he interrupted constantly. He had his mind made up, and he refused everything I said. –Even though he’d begun the conversation by saying that he had questions about God that he’d asked dozens of people –even preachers– and of which no one could answer for him. I finally had to tell him (nicely) that he was purposefully keeping the blinders on his eyes that the god of this age had put on him. (Yes, I quoted to him 2 Cor. 4:4.)
Well, I won’t go into any lengthy explanations right now of how I answered his questions. But briefly: God is sovereign. To be sovereign means to be the supreme ruler. –Which He is. But does not every good supreme ruler delegate authority and give those under him significant leeway, a margin of freedom, a flexibility considering personality differences and areas of interest or talent? Of course. And God, being He knows everything and is all-powerful, can certainly remain supreme and in control, while still allowing His laws of creation that He set in place at the beginning to affect each other, while still allowing the evil realm who usurped God’s planet to have affect, and while still allowing humans to affect the world –by our choices.
And about God preordaining everything…? It shouldn’t be hard to comprehend that if God is outside of time, He can see everything that has ever happened or will happen –all at a glance– and that by being outside of time, can predetermine that He will intervene inside of time (for example when He sees someone praying or repenting…), and can orchestrate whatever He wants. God knows every grain of sand on every shore, every leaf on every tree, every intricate part of the trillions of DNA strands inside one person –not to mention inside all those on the planet… so why should we not think He can see up ahead into time, back again, all around, and then intervene based on what He sees –and really already knows? He tells us that if we pray, He acts upon our requests. Did He not see from before time that we would pray, He would respond, and circumstances would go differently than if we’d not prayed?
Hmmm… The problem with many people (like Calvinists) is that they have a small opinion of God. Their god is incapable, and does not know enough. Their god is not omniscient or omnipresent throughout time, and before and after time. But that’s not the real God of gods, Lord of lords, King of kings, and Ruler Almighty.
Well, it’s late. I’ll finish this tomorrow.
July 26, 2010
1 John 5:19 tells us “that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” This is a very awful predicament. It is not one bit funny –or fun. Oh, many people don’t know they are under an evil reign. And actually, if they play into that ruler’s plan, they may never know. The evil ruler may find it best to keep such people thinking they are happy so that they won’t upset the cart. For if someone gets in a bind of some sort, or a disaster comes their way, they may just call out for help to God. And God may come to their aid, reveal Himself to them, and they may repent of their sins and turn against the evil realm. That wouldn’t be much good for the furtherance of wickedness; so sometimes, yes, those that don’t know God are kept “happy” by their evil master.
But what really is the predicament of these caught in the dark realm –besides that being their eternal abode? It’s hollowness. Emptiness. The fun may seem fun for them for a day. But the next day, the routine repeats, and the ache in the heart is always there –even if it’s squelched way down in denial. For they don’t even know that there’s a deeper love, that there’s a broader joy, that flowers can smell sweeter, that peace can be attained, and that fear can be rejected. They just don’t know. So they deal with the dull despair –for it’s all they’ve ever experienced.
Some people do know they’re caught in a prison. Some of those think they can procrastinate on trying to get free, while others have given up hoping. They might even admit they’re headed for a dark eternity, but can’t do a thing about it. “I’m too far gone,” they may say. Or, “I can’t quit sinning.” It’s incredibly sad, for these people are looking at the law and realize that they have no power to live up to it. They may want to, but they absolutely cannot. And for them, it’s not enough that someone has told them about Jesus, or taken them to church, or that they’ve joined a recovery group… because what they experience is a counterfeit gospel that has no true deliverance power. Instead, if they try, it’s just one huge effort after another to not fall back into their habitual sins.
What is it that holds people in bondage? Yes, it’s Satan, and though he’s a defeated foe who holds people illegitimately due to the ransom that has already been paid in full, everyone does not know this or believe this. Therefore, they are kept in his clutches. But the other two things that hold people in bondage is sin and law. True –it’s also the world and self and others, but that falls under the “sin” category, and we know that “the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin.” (Gal. 3:22) Yet what does verse 23 say? It says that before the offer of faith in Christ Jesus came, “we were held prisoners by the law, locked up…”
How could the law of God hold us prisoners if that law is in itself actually holy (Rom. 7:12), good (v. 13), spiritual (v. 14), and not opposed to the promises of God (Gal. 3:21)? The reason, is because to obey it, is impossible (Rom. 7:10,11, 21 & Heb. 7:18,19), and yet to not obey it, brings about the wrath of God. People can try to obey, but there will always be at least a small part of the law that they will break. And James 2:10 doesn’t give us much encouragement when it says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”
So in God’s sight, messing up once breaks the whole thing. Crack… there it lies… like something that falls on the hard pavement… a big piece broken off. It’s ruined. That’s it. We broke it. And even if we plead with God in repentance, the fall… the C-R-A-C-K! just happens all over again soon enough. This is why Rom. 7:21-23 says, “… When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” For law, knowing that the sinner cannot attain its expectation, condemns the person (as does sin –6:23) –the penalty being eternal spiritual death. (7:5,13)
What a predicament! As Rom. 7:24 continues, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer is given in the next verse: “Thanks be to God– through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 25)
“So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to… [Christ], in order that we might bear fruit to God.” (v. 4) “Holy, righteous, good” (v. 12) fruit –that the law was powerless to produce in and through us. (8:3) But when God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering… He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (8:3,4) So “now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law…” (7:6) Has Christ released us so that we can break it and not be condemned? Absolutely not! The rest of verse 6 says, “…so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
And how do we serve in the Spirit? We serve God just the way Christ does: In perfect obedience, righteousness, and holiness. And we are able to do so. –Because we have His power, His life, His mind –in us. And with Him in us, His Spirit is then controlling us. (8:9) That is how we meet the righteous requirements of God’s holy law. That is how we are set free from every prison the dark realm tries to hold us captive in.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (8:1,2) “You have been set free…” (6:18) “You have been set free…” (6:22)
It’s exceedingly great news!
July 25, 2010
There’s a battle going on. It’s a battle for all that is good and righteous, holy and pure. And how do we fight this battle? Rom. 12:21 tells us to “overcome evil with good.” How’s that done? 2 Cor. 10:3,4 tell us: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world…” Let me stop. What’s the world’s weapons? Oh, you name it: Money, fame, beauty, talent, deception, craftiness, majority rule, intelligence, social position, etc. And those who have these weapons are using them to strive after one main thing: P-o-w-e-r. Right? Because with power, they can get other things they want –like services and pleasures of all sorts –from whomever they want to command it be given.
And what else (even more desirous) will power achieve for them? Glory. What exactly does it mean to be striving after “glory”? It means a person is striving after high honor, fame, admiration, and renown. It means he wants to be thought of as wonderful, great, distinct from all others, respected, delighted in, splendid, magnificent, praise-worthy, and even worshipped. Such a person revels in being treated this way; he expects it and will try to punish those who won’t “put out”.
What is the actual reason that a person would demand glory? The reason is that same age-old evil desire birthed way back in the heart of Lucifer. Pride. (Ezek. 28:2,14,17) The one whose heart is filled with pride thinks he is entitled to what others aren’t, and to that of which only God is worthy. But God says that He will not share His glory (Isa. 42:8 & 48:11), for only He is to be worshipped. (Ex. 34:14 & 20:3) And to desire glory inevitably does lead to the desire to be worshipped.
So if the evil realm is waging war against the pure realm of Light, and they have weapons of power, what are our weapons? Well, it is power, but it’s His power. The divine power of the Holy Spirit. Nothing fleshly or human about it. This is what Zech. 4:6 means, for it says, “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” And back to 2 Cor. 10:4: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” –Divine power. –His power. Nothing of, or from, the world. Not even a mixture.
So how exactly do we wage war using His divine power? How do we “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God”? (v. 4c,5a) Verse 5b instructs us: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That’s it. That’s how we acquire the divine power. Because once we have Christ’s mind, we do, say, and battle the way He would. And contrary to what the world would advise, we take our advice from God’s Word –such as, “Your attitude / mind should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing… He humbled Himself and became obedient to death –even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:5-8) And all because “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16)
That, friends, is how we fight evil. –Through absolute humility (Phil. 2:3) and submission to God’s will no matter the cost (v. 5-8), through “tenderness and compassion” (v. 1) and true concern for others (v. 4), through “fellowship with the Spirit” (also v. 1), and through “being united with Christ” (also v. 1) –which should lovingly unite all who are in Him. (v. 2)
Is Christ’s attitude –this “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16)– acquired by osmosis or by wishing it into us? No. It takes training. Training in the knowledge of God and in being conformed to Christ-likeness. And the training is done by meditating on Scripture, through worship and praise and prayer in the Spirit, and by the power of the name of Jesus. As Ps. 138:2 says, “… You have exalted above all things Your name and your Word.” And these two are actually one and the same. For God gave Jesus the name at which every knee must bow (Phil. 2:9-11), and Jesus is the Word of God. (Rev. 19:13) And as Eph. 6:17 tells us, the Word of God is also “the sword of the Spirit” –that living, active, sharper than any double-edged sword that can penetrate soul, spirit, thoughts, attitude, heart… (Heb. 4:12,13) That –the Word, the Name, the Spirit– is powerful. All powerful. –Over all other powers. So as we abide in all three, we then have access to His power.
Jesus informs us in John 15:5 that we bear fruit only through Him; that apart from Him we can do nothing. And what does He tell us to do in order to bear fruit –that is, to have the power to produce for His Kingdom and honor? He tells us that we must remain in Him and His words (v. 7a) so that “the Spirit of Truth may guide us into all Truth.” (16:13; see also 14:26) He tells us that if we do this, we can ask whatever we wish and it will be given to us. (15:7b) That’s power. –To just ask… and it’s done. And verse 16 lets us know that the Father grants the requests when we ask in the authority we have by having abided in (obeyed, followed, and served) Christ. (See also 14:12-14)
So no, we don’t battle evil by swinging our carnal weight around, whatever that may be –such as our prestige, our money, our influence, or even our ability to slay with words. Instead, we battle by walking out our lives in humility and absolute obedience to Christ –which we do by having our will completely submitted to His will. And where that is accomplished, is in the mind. (See Rom. 12:2) Once the battle for righteousness is won there, our will must bow, our deceptive heart (Jer. 17:9) is conquered, and we are “in Him who is true.” (1 John 5:20) We are born of God, and thus, by our faith, victorious over the world. (5:4)
It’s not our power. It’s not a worldly power of any sort. It’s His power at work within us –through our faith, love, humility, and obedience to Christ Jesus. As Eph. 3:20 says, “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…”
Indeed, such power can battle the evil realm any day. And come out victorious.