Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Satan

Your Greatest Enemy is Satan

As I read blogs ranging from debates over Arminianism vs. Calvinism to debates over the issue of speaking in tongues vs. the end of sign gifts, I am struck at times by the amount of hatred there can be toward one another.  Over the past few weeks I have been made aware more than ever of the presence of Satan as he seeks to destroy homes, destroy people, get people to ignore God and His commands, to follow our own sinful desires.  Satan loves that the secular world largely rejects him today but for the child of God, we should be aware that Satan is our real enemy and not our fellow laborers in the kingdom.

I do think that truth is worth defending.  I am not asking for us to back down from our biblical convictions but to recognize that Satan is our real enemy.  I do believe some teachings can be from Satan himself (1 Timothy 4:1) and I believe that some teachings need to be corrected and rebuked (2 Timothy 2:24-26).  I fear that one of the chief dangers is teachings that ignore the holiness of God and His just wrath against sin that often produces cheap grace and antinomianism to the false views of God from the hyper-prosperity camp that makes God bow down to our every wish.  Both views view God wrongly and ignore much of Scripture.

Yet even still, our battle is not with flesh and blood.  Our battle is with the enemy of our souls: Satan (Ephesians 6:12).  Peter the Apostle stated that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Satan often will not come to us directly but he will use a person to try to get to us.  Satan, as he did to Eve (1 Timothy 2:14), will often tempt someone near us to try to betray us, attack us, or even destroy us.  Satan even tempted Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22:3-6).  Satan will attack a godly man’s wife or a godly woman’s husband.  Satan will attack children.  Satan will tempt old people and young people alike.  Satan will tempt Bible teachers (see King David or even Judas Iscariot).  Satan will tempt the flesh through whatever tools he has.  Satan’s main goal: to thwart the plans and worship of Yahweh.  Satan is not necessarily interested in your worship of him so long as you are not worshiping the one true God.  Satan will try to sidetrack you from seeking God through your own pleasures.  Satan will use people around you to discourage you from seeking God.  Satan will bring an ungodly person into your life to get you off focus from Jesus.  How many of my friends have turned away from Jesus because of a girl or guy?  How many of my friends have fallen into sexual sins because of the work of Satan to tempt them?

We have the assurance that Satan will be destroyed (Revelation 20:7-10) but until that day, let us remember that our battle is not with people but with Satan who often uses people.  Never grow comfortable in your thinking that tells you that Satan is not real.  He is real.  He is present.  He is working.  He will not stop until people cease seeking Jesus.  His aim is your destruction.  He wants to destroy you and your house.

Advertisements

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/23/2013 at 1:51 PM

Posted in Satan

Tagged with

The Purpose of Satan

This post is simply a question that I am studying out right now.  My reading in both the Bible and in books will begin to reflect my thoughts on the subject.  I am pondering Satan both his creation and his fall and his purpose in the overall plan of God.  Satan is a subject that popular culture enjoys ignoring and even seeking to make him a myth.  I am sure Satan would love nothing more than people to ignore him and to pretend he does not exist.  I simply cannot ignore him because the Bible does not ignore him.

Yet why did God create Satan and why did God allow him to fall?  These answers are not easy.  Whether a Calvinist who holds to divine determinism and would view Satan as part of the plan of God and the will of God to us Arminians who hold that God is exhaustive in His foreknowledge and thus He knew that Satan would fall but He created him to the open theist who holds that Satan reflects the reality that God created a world that is free and thus Satan fell out of his own free will and his rebellion continues to this day.  In fact, Dr. Greg Boyd has written two books on the subject of spiritual warfare and free will theism.  Dr. Boyd, an open theist and perhaps the leading theologian among them, believes that the cross itself shows that God is at war with Satan.  Satan is not equal but he does war against God and against His plans.

I am sure that you too have heard much about Satan and some was good and some was bad.  I remember fearing Satan when I was lost especially as a boy.  I feared that Satan was out to kill me as I heard from John 10:10.  When I was first saved, I encountered people who saw the devil everywhere.  I remember going to hear an African brother speak and he said that he had seen Satan and his demons many times in Africa.  He went on to say that he had seen the same demons at the mall earlier that day not so much in possession of souls but in the love of money and the boasting of life (James 4:13-16).  I personally watched a man try to cast a demon out of woman.  It was more bizarre than biblical.  However, I did see a woman once drop on the floor of a church and begin to move like a snake on the floor.  A man in the back came up and begin to cast a demon out and she let out a horrible sounding cry from deep within.  She was delivered that night and became a prayer warrior at that church.

I do believe in Satan.  I have never met him as far as I know.  I pray that I don’t.  However, I know that Jesus is victorious and I know that He has already overcome (Hebrews 2:14).  What I want to study is why does Satan exist?  What is his purpose?  Does Scripture give us answers to these questions?  What do we make of Satan if in fact there is no true free will?  Why does Satan tempt disciples of Jesus if in fact they are secure forever?

I may post on these topics from time to time but I simply wanted to throw these questions out there as to what I am pondering in my mind these days.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/18/2013 at 9:47 PM

Posted in Satan

Tagged with , , , ,

So Little Said About Demons These Days

Even a simply survey reading of the Gospels reveals that Jesus Christ interacted with demonic forces during His earthly ministry.

In Matthew 4:23-25 we read that Jesus’ ministry was marked first by His healings which included “those oppressed by demons” (v. 24 ESV).

In Matthew 8:16 we read that Jesus again headed those oppressed by demons and thus His healings demonstrated that He was the Messiah according to Isaiah 53:4 and Matthew 8:17.

In Matthew 8:28-34 we have Jesus’ first encounter with two demon possessed men.  Here Jesus casts out the demons by allowing them to speak that they wish to be cast into a herd of pigs which He allows and the pigs run off a cliff to their deaths.

In Matthew 9:32-34 Jesus heals a demon possessed man who is unable to speak.

In Matthew 10:8 Jesus tells His disciples to cast out demons.

In Matthew 12:22 Jesus heals a demon possessed man who is blind and mute.

The only insight Jesus gives us to demons is found in Matthew 12:43-45 where He speaks about what a demon spirit does when it is cast out of a person.

In Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus heals a Gentile woman’s demon possessed little girl whose mother comes to Jesus and implores Him to come and heal her.  Jesus heals the little girl without being present physically (v. 28).

In Matthew 17:14-21 Jesus heals a demon possessed boy whom the disciples of Jesus could not heal.  Jesus tells His disciples they could not heal the boy because of their lack of faith (v. 20).

This ends the ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew concerning demons but much more could be read from the other three Gospels about our Lord.  Clearly He had a ministry that included dealing with demons and demon possession.

What is amazing is that we don’t see that much on demons these days.  Some have sought answers to this by saying 1) the stories in the Gospels are not true.  2) Demons were in abundance in the life and times of Christ but not so today.  Demons helped God prove that Jesus was indeed the Messiah of Israel and thus are not needed today to demonstrate His truth since we have the Bible.  3)  Demons do exist but we just don’t talk about them much because we lack faith to deal with them.

My contention is number 3.

I believe in demons.  I have seen only a few times where I thought I was seeing a demon working in a person.  We have all heard the stories such as The Exorcist where the demon causes the person to talk in a different voice and even in foreign languages.  I too have heard those stories though never witnessed them.  I once sat in on a bizarre episode where a girl we knew was struggling with migraine headaches.  Some guy claimed that the headaches were demonic and that a demon was behind the sickness.  He began to have the girl look into his eyes and he said, “I want to speak to the demon in the name of Jesus.”  Supposedly a few demons spoke but I think the girl was making it up.  She continue to struggle with migraines to this day and that has been nearly 20 years.

You see the dilemma that I face is this: I believe in demons but I have seen some strange teachings on demons.  I worked with a lady who claimed that demons were stealing from her cash register.  She honestly believed that if she came up short on her money at our job then a demon had come in, took the money, and was seeking to bring her down.  I watched once as she sought to cast a demon out of her cash register.

Yet I still believe in demons.  Why?  Because of the Bible.  I see in the Gospels and later in the book of Acts the dealings by both the Lord Jesus and the Apostles with demons.  Some believe that with the death of the last Apostle and the cessation of revelatory spiritual gifts, demonic activity likewise has diminished and today we defeat demons not by signs and wonders and healings but with the power of the gospel.  I believe this is a weak argument based on silence and not Scripture.  It is seeking to a build a case from silence of why we in the modern Church do not see demons like they did in Acts.

I am well aware of the stories from Africa and other nations were demons are being interacted with.  I have talked with missionaries to Africa who say that they have seen demonic activity all across Africa but that the Church is confronting those demons with the power of Christ.  I have spoken with brothers from India who tell of temples of Hinduism that are full of demons.  One Indian brother told me that Westerners often get very sick around those temples even if not a Christian because of the level of demonic activity that goes on the inside of those Hindu temples.  I have had Indian brothers tell me about the power of Jesus healing demon possessed people.

So why the lack of demon possession in the United States and the West?  One African brother told me that he believed that demons not show themselves here in the US because of our trust in materialism.  He told me, “Brother, demons are active in the United States but they need not manifest themselves since you trust in riches.  Demons are behind your materialism and they have you trapped.  Why bother exposing themselves when their job is complete.”  This African brother told me that he has demons speak to him in Africa but never in the United States.  He did tell me that he once encountered a demon at a large mall.  He said that the demon possessed man merely walked over to him and growled like a dog at him.

Perhaps this brother is correct.  We trust in our technology here in the West.  You get sick.  You go to the doctor.  We have little trust in the supernatural or in trying to explain events using demons or the spirit world.  Our trust in modern science is such that we seek to explain everything and everything has an explanation.  Demonic activity is not one that you ever hear about.  I have had only one psychiatrist tell me that she often prays for wisdom to discern the demonic (1 Corinthians 12:10).  She said that it is difficult to discern if a demon is behind a person’s behavior or if the person is truly sick.  Either way, she said, she prays for healing and asks Jesus to intervene for His glory.  Wise woman.

To make matters even more difficult, the Epistles speak little to none of demons.  Paul mentions demons in 1 Corinthians 10:21.  Paul mentions Satan in 2 Corinthians 2:11.  He mentions Satan as the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4.  Paul mentions the false god Belial in 2 Corinthians 6:15.  Paul mentions the deception of Satan in 2 Corinthians 11:14.  Paul mentions spiritual forces of evil in Ephesians 6:12.  Paul speaks of the activity of Satan in 2 Thessalonians 2:9.  He mentions deceitful spirits and teaching of demons in 1 Timothy 4:1.  James mentions demons in James 2:19.  Peter mentions spirits in prison in 1 Peter 3:19.  John mentions spirits in 1 John 4:1-3.  Revelation is full of demons and spirits and creatures such as we see in Revelation 9.

Yet that is pretty much it.  Demons rarely appear outside of the Gospels and Acts.  Paul never tells the churches he writes to cast out demons.  Some say that this would have been a given because of the words of Jesus in Mark 16:17.  I believe this another argument from silence.  Yet the same could be said of healing.  Paul never mentions for the church to be praying for healings to take place to draw people to Christ and apart from 1 Corinthians 12, he never speaks of healings.  James mentions healing in James 5:13-16.  So if we believe that the revelatory gifts such as tongues, interpretation of tongues, healings, and exorcisms were for the Apostles, then that is your argument for the lack of demonic activity in the modern Church and in the Epistles.

Either way, we know this: Jesus is victorious over demons.  His victory is seen in the cross and in His resurrection.  His victory is seen in the transformation of lives through the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17).  His victory is seen in the defeat of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15).  This victory is now experienced through the gospel.  Jesus is able to deliver us from sin and it’s power (Romans 6:1-23).  The Spirit of God delivers us completely from darkness into the kingdom of God’s Son (Colossians 1:13-14).  God has triumphed over all demons through the cross (Colossians 2:15).  Victory is ours in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/24/2012 at 4:45 PM

Spiritual Disciplines and Hypocrisy

I had a talk this week with a hypocrite.  Hypocrisy is one of the greatest dangers to the Church.  So many claim to love Jesus and claim His salvation while living in blatant sin.  They compromise in many areas of their lives including indulging their flesh in all types of sin.  They would claim God’s grace while ignoring His serious call to holiness and purity (Matthew 5:8, 48; 1 Peter 1:15-16).  They claim to know Jesus while never obeying Him as Lord (Luke 6:46-49).

This hypocrite I dealt with this week started by denying the usefulness of the Law of God in bringing sinners to salvation.  He rejected the moral law of God that is still praised in the New Testament (except the Sabbath command) and he in turn tried to claim that the way to “win the world” is not by preaching the divine Law of God (1 Timothy 1:8-11) but through preaching a good God who loves us unconditionally and winks at our sins.  His antinomian lies flowed from his keyboard as we interacted and I regret this wasted time that I could have been doing something more useful such as brushing my teeth.

In the end, this hypocrite exposed themselves.  They begin to use ungodly language.  I do not curse.  I believe cursing is wrong.  I believe that all filthy language is to be forsaken by the new creature we are in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).  I wrote simply, “Ephesians 4:29” to which they rejected this passage (as he did all passages essentially).  Ephesians 5:4 is a passage that every disciple of Jesus should memorize and obey.  When Jesus changes us, He destroys the power of sin in our lives (Romans 7:25).  The Holy Spirit helps us to obey Christ (Romans 8:3-4, 7).  The Holy Spirit helps us to bear fruit (Galatians 5:22-23).  The Holy Spirit helps us to obey Jesus in all things (John 15:26).  How can anyone claim to be “in Christ” while living in sin (Romans 6:1-4)?  How can anyone claim to be “in Christ” yet not obey Jesus as Lord but instead love the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:15-17; cf. James 4:4)?

Hypocrisy is rampant.  So many people fit this description.  They claim Jesus on Sunday but then all week long they live in the world, filling their lives with all filth and wickedness from television to ungodly talk.  Rather than seeking to glorify God in all that they say or do (Colossians 3:17), rather than living a life worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1), they instead claim to be a child of God while living for the devil.  This hypocrisy breeds only death (Galatians 6:7-8).  Sin always leads to death (James 1:12-15).  Sin always produces more sin.

One aspect of hypocrisy is that people will claim Christ while never seeking Him.  Spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, worship, evangelism, reading and studying the Bible, confessing sin, etc. are all ignored.  This hypocrite I dealt with, I have no doubt that he never has times of intercession on his face before God.  He never prays for the lost (1 Timothy 2:1-6).  He never seeks to know God more in His Word through faithful studying (John 17:3).  He never shares his faith (Matthew 28:19).  He never preaches the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).  Hypocrites have no passion to worship Jesus just for who He is and what He has done for us.  They honor Jesus with their lips but their hearts are far from Him (Mark 7:1-13).

My prayer for this man is for his salvation.  I believe that he is lost.  He would claim Jesus but he is not even seeking to follow Him.  He clings only to God’s grace without allowing the true grace of God to transform him (Titus 2:12).  He wants to be worldly, use worldly language, abide in worldly living but claim Christ.  This is not the case (Luke 9:23-25).  We must come to Jesus to die.  We must come to Jesus and hate all things in comparison to our passion for Him (Luke 14:25-35).  We may not be perfect but our passion is to be like Jesus in all ways (1 John 2:3-6).  He is our everything!  Not so with hypocrites.  He is their key to avoid hell but He is not their Lord.

Let us pray that the Lord would save hypocrites and draw sinners to Himself using His Word (Romans 1:16-17).  No doubt Jesus is a powerful Savior who can be glorified even through hypocrites repenting of their sins (Revelation 3:2).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/16/2012 at 10:16 AM

%d bloggers like this: