Know Your Enemy

Sometimes I think we give the devil way more credit than we should. That being said the devil is our adversary. After all, Satan means adversary. We should also understand that he does have a vast network of demons that do his bidding so while we should not give him too much credit it is important to know his tactics. That all being said I want to look at three tactics found in Genesis 3.

First, the devil “perverts language” as Bruce Waltke says, using it to confuse Adam and Eve.[1] Before the fall language was wholesome and only communicated truth or was used to ask questions but never for deceit. The idea of using language to confuse or tempt was completely foreign to the minds of Adam and Eve. This is not to excuse Adam and Eve because they clearly had God’s words regarding the tree. But we should understand that to them there was language was pure, so the statements and questions of the serpent made sense to a degree.

For us to combat this we need to constantly remind ourselves of what God has said. Personal revelation about Scripture and direction in life are good but we need the revealed Word of God to fall back on in times of trouble and question. The devil can easily make us question a direction we believe is from God and he can attempt to use Scripture to confuse us. We fight this the same way Jesus did and that is by rightly dividing and knowing the Word of God.

Second, I see that the devil turns God’s command regarding the tree of knowledge into a general question about all trees in the Garden. This planted the seed of doubt in Eve’s mind because later she sees that the tree was good for food (v6). Additionally, the serpent goes on to contradict God’s words in verse 4 when he says, “you will not die.”[2] The devil makes Eve think that “God is jealous and makes lavish promises” introducing the idea that God does not have their best intentions at heart.[3] The trickery here was to make Eve think that God was keeping something from them. That there was more that could be had but to get it they must get it on their own.

The devil can often confuse us (or at least me) about things that seem to contradict. Genesis 2:9 says that all the trees in the garden were pleasing in appearance and good for food including the tree of knowledge of good and evil so the devil can say if it is good for food then you should eat it. If God wants me to be happy and live in abundant life, then why shouldn’t I get what I need? I am not under the Law I don’t need to give tithes or offerings. I need to live an abundant life, don’t I? This is just one example but in truth, the devil comes at us with all sorts of temptations that for things we can justify. The problem is again that we must go back to the Word of God and see what God has truly said on the matter. We cannot philosophize the Word of God or His commands. Paul writes in Colossians 2:8 that we should not be carried away by teachings, philosophies, and traditions that are not based on Christ. We cannot turn God’s specifics into questions about abstract and general things and we must hold fast to the promises of God and trust in Him.
Lastly, as Walter Brueggemann says in his commentary on Genesis, God was objectified by the serpent. [4]  God was not included in the conversation that the devil had with Eve. The devil will attack us this way. He will get us to question God, His motives, His previous commands, and so on all the while being sure that we talk about God but never to Him. We must always be careful not to let God become an academic study. We cannot allow God to become just another subject we study. Our endeavors to learn about Him must be married with a desire to grow closer to Him. These two things must never be separated. God is not an abstract concept and should not be treated as such. Christ’s life and death was not only simply to save us from eternal separation from God but to give us union with Him. It is Christ in me the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). We can treat it as salvation from sin and death but more than that it is a call to relationship. Just as our salvation does not exist outside of Christ our knowledge of Him should not exist outside of Him either. Galatians 2:20 says that the life we now live we by faith in the Son of God.

When we better understand our enemy, we are better prepared on how to fight. We should understand that we fight from a place of victory, but it is a battle nonetheless. The victory is ours in Christ, but we still live in the flesh. So, arm yourself today and know how to fight.

Just a thought,

Mike

 

[1] Bruce K. Waltke, and Cathi J Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001): 91.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Didymus, and Robert C. Hill, Commentary on Genesis. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 82. accessed March 12, 2018, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost.

 

[4] Walter Brueggemann, “Genesis,” (Louisville, Ky: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2010), 48, accessed March 12, 2018, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost

 

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More than a story about sharing fish

God is looking for a heart that is after Him. He wants people who desire Him and His sufficiency. In John chapter 6 and the story of the feeding of the multitude, we see that all the people ate and were satisfied. We can look at this story and see the obvious. We can see that there was a need and a boy shared his loaves and his fishes. We can see this and if we stop there we can learn a little something. However, if we push through just a little we can see so much more. There are three great points that we can take away from this story.

  1. God works through people. God gives the gift. He is the One who provides the means, but He does this work through people. He works through the church. He works through you and me.
  2. When we serve God by giving generously our faith increases.
  3. Jesus is sufficient for us. He is more than enough.

If we look at the story we see that Jesus multiplied the little that was offered. This tells us that Jesus did not need the little that was offered. Why? Because He is God. He used it, but He did not need it. The power of God, the presence of God is sufficient with or without our offerings. God is more than able to meet any need because God is sufficient. More on that in a moment.

God works through people. Again, He does not require you or me, but He chooses you and I. God has decided that in His infinite wisdom He would work through the Church. He would choose the lowly and foolish things to accomplish His plans and purposes. I wouldn’t choose you and me, but God did, and it is for our good that He does.

God choosing to use us is for our good just as much as it is for someone else. When we serve others, when we give of our time, when we give of our money we grow into the image of Christ. God choosing to use us means we get to partner with God in the things He is doing. If we think about like when our parents would let us “help them” we can see this a little clearer. Our parents did not need our help and in some cases, our “help” was actually no help at all. But that used those moments to teach us and to grow us. We learned more about how it was done, the heart of our parents, and the value of service in those moments.

God being a good Father is so much more than our earthly parents. Again, He does not need our help, but He allows us to help so that we might grow. God does not need me to share these things with you. The Holy Spirit is much more capable than I and could easily communicate this message to you and He can do it better than I can, but He allows me to help so that I might grow too.

Going back to the first part of this story we can see that Jesus us sufficient. He can meet the need all by Himself. Somehow this gets turned into a prosperity Gospel message but when we look at the text we see the people got what they needed and wanted Jesus to do more so He left. That should be a message to all those who say God wants you to have it all.

Jesus is the sufficiency, not the stuff. God gives gifts. He supplies the need, but He wants us to desire Him and His ways.

Just a thought,

Mike

Take my will

In John 16:24 Jesus says that we should ask in His name so that we may receive, and our joy will be complete. Today it hit me that what I need to be asking for is for my will to be conformed to God’s will. I  want my will to line up with His. I want my purpose to be His purpose. I want to be conformed to the image of the Son. I want my pleasures to be His pleasures, my choices to be His choices. I desire to be more like Him because I am so thankful for what He has done and not done in my life. The more I seek Him the more I want Him. The more I know Him the more I want to know Him. The more I see God the more I cry out like Isaiah.

Woe is me for I am ruined
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said:

Now that this has touched your lips,
your wickedness is removed
and your sin is atoned for.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:

Who should I send?
Who will go for Us?

I said:

Here I am. Send me.