Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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And Spiritual Warfare
         This week, a tragedy occurred in Charleston, SC.  A man, who happened to be white, entered a church and ended the lives of nine people, who happened to be black.  On the surface, his motivation, as expressed by his own words was simply because he hated them because they were black; thus, it was his opinion that they deserved to be killed.  Later he said he almost didn’t follow through with his plan, because they had been so nice to him.  Yet, he still went ahead to carry out the evil that was in his heart.  He killed nine people who were at a prayer meeting, coming before the Lord, to praise and worship Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior.
          At first glance, the event seems to be a racist hate crime of one white man perpetrated against nine black people.  That in itself is evil enough.  There were those that tried to diminish the situation to a political problem of gun control.  I submit that there is a far greater evil that lies behind this tragedy, and all other such acts of violence and evil that are rising up like a tsunami, in an attempt to cause chaos and destruction on earth, as we have never imagined or seen before.  The motivation does not rise in this one man alone, nor is it limited to the evil of racism, but rather has a far more sweeping underlying scope of intent to open wide the gates of Hell, to let Satan come in like a flood that he may fulfill his evil intent to corrupt, kill and destroy mankind, the one creation of God that was made in the image of God.  It isn’t that Satan hates mankind so much, but rather he resents and hates God.  He knows how much God loves us, as demonstrated by the fact that He willingly sent His only Son to die for us.  Therefore, it is Satan’s supreme goal to do that which he thinks will hurt and defeat God, by destroying the one part of His creation which He loves the most.
          For a better understanding of this constant warfare on earth between good (God) and evil (Satan and his followers), let us lay a better foundation to enhance our knowledge.  It is written that God made man in His own image and placed them, male and female, in the Garden of Eden.  God looked upon His handiwork, mankind and all of His creation, and proclaimed, “It is good!”  Then, through man’s rebellion, evil (sin) came into the world, giving Satan the opportunity to do that which he had desired to do all along - to corrupt and destroy the one creature on earth, mankind, which God had made in His own image.  God has already defeated Satan, but Satan, in his arrogance and pride, thinks that he can still get the upper hand to defeat God; thereby, gaining authority to Force everyone and everything to have to bow down and worship him. 
          God came down to earth in the form of man, Jesus Christ, and through His love for mankind, He, all God and the only sinless man, was willing to be our substitute, to be sacrificed on the Cross, to pay the sin debt which we could never repay.  By doing so, He restored man’s opportunity to be born again, and receive the Holy Spirit to indwell himself.  Remember, mankind was originally created without sin, the knowledge of evil.  We would never have “thought” to do evil, for we had no “knowledge” of what evil was.  Adam and God visited and walked together, there was no sin to stand between them; they communed and fellowshipped with one another on a regular basis.  But God never FORCED man to worship Him.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was there from the beginning.  God could have created mankind without the freedom to make his own choices. Yet, He wanted their love towards Him to be by their own choice, so He gave each of us a free will, the ability to make our own choices and decisions.  Had man not chosen to disobey God, he would have remained “made in the image of God,” having the spirit of God within him.  But when sin, the knowledge of evil, entered into us, it caused our spiritual death.  When Christ died, He overcame sin and spiritual death, enabling you and me, to choose to believe by faith in Him, our substitute on the cross, to pay the sin debt that we would never be able to repay.  Whosoever would choose to believe in Him would thereby be reconciled with God our Father once again.  We could “choose” to be reborn and receive His Holy Spirit, as a deposit within us, a seal to signify that we once again belonged to Him, not by force but by personal choice, once more united with Him through His mercy and grace, poured out towards us for our eternal salvation.
          Once we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we are sent His Holy Spirit to live within us, to help and empower us to do that which is good and right in the eyes of God, and resist the devil.  We have the word of God, and the Holy Spirit to teach, lead, and guide us that we may be able to know the difference between good and evil, and with His help, choose to walk in good and not evil.  Yes, until we are given our glorified bodies in Heaven, we still struggle against our old nature, the desires of our flesh, and against the evil powers of Satan.  He still has authority and power to try to rob, kill, and destroy whoever he may on earth, for the present.  But through the word and the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to become less of our old nature and more and more of the image of Christ, as He changes us from the inside out, and frees us from enslavement to sin.
          Why have I done my best to lay a foundation for us to understand how evil came into the world? We must be aware that Satan’s role is to continually try to corrupt and destroy mankind.  The significance of Christ’s substitution for us on the Cross, His ascension back to heaven, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to indwell and empower us to resist the devil, and sin in general, is the basis for salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.  Without this knowledge we can not comprehend that evil does not pop up randomly without cause, neither is it limited to isolated incidences, but rather, it is the display of Satan’s ability to try to thwart the desires of God to reign within us and prevail against the wiles of Satan in our lives.  As I said previously, there are those who still persist in trying to depict this evil as being limited to a problem of racism, mental illness, or a political problem.  They proclaim that we need to have a larger conversation to confront these things, as if the solutions can be found through man’s efforts.  The secular world will never realize that we are involved in spiritual warfare.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6: 12)  The only solutions to defeating the devil and his followers are found in following the Lord our God, whom they are busily working to eradicate from every part of our society.  They have no spiritual eyes, ears, or heart to respond to the Lord, for they have not believed and received Him through faith.  Oh the arrogance of mankind, thinking that he is sufficient in himself, having no need of the very one who created him!
          In these past years, we have seen violence and evil on the rise, not just here in America only, but across the world at large.  It takes on every form imaginable, and brings with it an ever increasing destruction and judgment upon the world because of the increasingly prevailing evil practiced in the lives of mankind, as we seek to eradicate God and His ways from our lives.  We’ve seen it exhibited by men who would seek to fight against the rule of law in an endeavor to create anarchy, which always leads to tyrannical rule by dictators, who are more interested in their own power than they are the wellbeing of mankind.  We’ve seen the difference between the practice of peaceful protest in an attempt to bring about social change for good, versus giving into the evil of rioting and pillaging to promote chaos, evil, and lawlessness.  God is a God of order and righteousness through which mankind may live in peace with one another.  If Satan, through the hearts, minds, and actions of mankind, can undermine God’s peace and lawful order, he will bring about disorder through which evil, wickedness, chaos, and lawlessness will reign within the hearts, minds, and actions of mankind. Mankind will be pitted one against another to bring about our own destruction. The lack of the mind of Christ, and His Holy Spirit within us can only lead to greater wickedness, decadence, and every evil way.  Apart from God, man can never rule over himself to defeat the evil that is within and in the fallen world around us. 
          Let us look at the tragedy of the deaths of these people in South Carolina, and how the response of the families of these people have thus far created entirely different results in the lives of the people of this community.  By the actions of this one man, he planned to be an instrument of evil in the hopes of creating a race war.  But, guess what?  It didn’t work this time.  Yes, accusations of hatred and violence on the part of both black and white people were heard scattered here and there.  But unlike other events in the past which resulted in pure evil, violence, and destruction; the voice heard in Charleston was predominantly that of the Lord.  He spoke, gently but firmly, first through the mouths of the people, and then His will was demonstrated through their actions.  The voices of would- be race baiters, from both sides, were hushed.  Instead, the voices of the families of the dead sprang forth in the mercy and grace of the Lord, proclaiming forgiveness.  The world, in disbelief, found it hard to understand from where this power to forgive did flow?  No, there was no rioting in the streets.  Instead, people from the community and surrounding areas poured out into the streets, people of all colors, races, and creeds, to come together in unity and loving support for all who had lost so much. 
          The power of the love of the Lord poured forth first from the hearts of the families.  Their love and grace caught afire in the hearts of others, and the peace and love of the Lord shown brightly for the entire world to see.  Through their confession of faith in the Lord from their mouths, they gave witness to the change that Christ had made in their hearts and lives.  They were not just hearers of the word, but doers of the word.
          Yes, this tragedy was purposed as evil, part of Satan’s attempt to destroy God and that which is created in His image.  But to Satan’s surprise, this incident has become an opportunity to witness to the whole world the greater life changing power that is wrought within the body of Christ, IF we will truly walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  God has given the victory over loss, and provides the evidence of the greater gain that can be had when His people truly humble themselves before the Lord our God. The world has been given cause to look upon the events in Charleston and to be totally confounded and astonished.  They have been given the opportunity to stand back, watch, and proclaim: Look what the Lord God Almighty has done!  All praise, glory, and honor be unto Him!  Will hearts be changed, that many may humble themselves before the Lord to turn their heart back in faith to the Lord?  Will they ask His forgiveness and forsake their evil ways?  Will they submit their will to the will of the Lord our God? Or, will they think in their hearts, “Oh, how nice for them,” and then decide to forget all about God once again, and continue on in life in their self centered, going their own way without God, the only one who offers forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, God the Son?  Once again, will there be revival in the hearts of Americans, or will we continue to rush headlong into spiritual blindness, removing the protective hand of the Lord; thereby subjecting ourselves to have to suffer the judgment of God.  Which will we choose; His mercy and grace, or His judgment and wrath?  I pray the answer will be His mercy and grace!
I have written this as a tribute to our Lord Jesus Christ and all those, especially the families of the slain, who portrayed the image of Christ, demonstrating the life changing faith and love in their hearts and lives that all the world may see and “BE ASTONISHED!”
If you are moved to do so, pass this on to others, to encourage others to unite in the faith and love of the Lord, that it may be used to ignite a flame and cause repentance and revival in the hearts of man throughout America and the world at large.  Be not deceived, we are in a spiritual battle; therefore, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Read Ephesians 6: 10- 18)  If Christians want God to bless us, we must first determine in our hearts to “BLESS GOD” in thought, word, and deed.
(If you have read some of my other works, you will be aware that I often use a literary tool known as repetition: some times repeating phrases, or a sentence(s). As a former teacher, I found that repetition is helpful when trying to get a point across, or when there is an idea that I want to emphasize.  No, I didn’t repeat things absentmindedly, but rather with a purpose in mind.  However, if I should from time to time repeat something absentmindedly, just mark it down to the effects of having a “senior moment,” proving that, just like you may have thought- I’m not perfect!  May God bless you all, and me to. J)


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