Monday, January 31, 2011

Satan: Blessed to Banished

If I was to ask you to describe what Satan looks like, what would you say? Horns and a forked tail? A scary demonic creature that would make you run in horror? Would you be surprised if I said that Satan is the most beautiful creature God ever created? Let’s look in the book of Ezekiel to see Satan in his creation and then we will look in Isaiah to see him in his fall.

The Origin of Satan   Ezekiel 28

In Ezekiel chapter 28, God, through the prophet, begins to speak to the king of Tyre. Tyre was the great commercial center of its day. Tyre is a type of the final Babylon spoken of in the book of the Revelation. Then the prophet begins to speak things that could never be said about a mortal king. Ezekiel begins to speak to the one behind the mortal king, Satan.

Beginning in verse 12, we learn that Satan was the wisest of all of God’s created beings. No other angel, no other being was ever created with the intelligence that God gave to this one. Not only was he perfect in his intelligence, he was also perfect in his beauty. Next to God this creature was the greatest.

Let me give a disclaimer before we move one. Satan was the most intelligent and the most beautiful of all of God’s creations. Don’t lose sight of the fact that he is a creation. Satan is not a god. He pales in comparison when compared to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In verse 13 we see Satan in the Garden of God. This is not the Garden of Eden spoken of in the book of Genesis, although Satan was there too. While in the Garden of God Satan was covered in precious stones. I would like to point out that the only other times you read of stones like this in the Bible are on the breastplate of the high priest, and again in the New Jerusalem. Here in Ezekiel this creature is covered in these stones. He was the highest and most heavenly creature.

Satan was perfect in all of his ways, until the day that iniquity was found in him. God created a perfect being. Perfect in wisdom, perfect in beauty, perfect in position, but I would like for you to know that he was also created with a free will. God created him, as He did with all the angels, with a free will. Even God’s intelligent creations are allowed to make a choice.

The Fall of Satan        Isaiah 14

In Ezekiel God allows us to stand next to Satan at the beginning, when he was created. In Isaiah God allows us to stand next to him when he falls. This angel must have done something terrible, something horrible.

Look at verses 12-14. Let me point out first that he was an angel of light. When the angels shouted for the joy at the time of creation, Satan shouted with them. When the angels worshipped at the throne of God, Satan worshipped also. The problem is that he was a hypocrite. The bible says that he was a liar from the beginning.

Notice five “I wills” in these verses
  1. I will ascend into heaven
  2. I will exalt my throne
  3. I will sit on the mount
  4. I will ascend above the height of the clouds
  5. I will be like the Most High

It was never Satan’s goal to go to hell. His goal was to ascend above. Satan thought that he would take over, and when he tried he took many angels with him. I wonder how he did it. If he did it anything like he is still doing it today it probably went something like this.

“How do you feel about the way things are being run here in heaven?” “Are you satisfied with your job here in heaven?” “Don’t you feel like you should have a higher position than you have currently?” “Why is it that everyone is leaving you out?”

You say, “I don’t believe that something like that would take place in heaven.” Well it happens every Sunday right in the house of God. “How do you feel about the pastor?” “Don’t you feel like you are being left out?” “They don’t respect you like they should.”

So, Satan goes to the angels and begins to tell them that he is planning on setting up his own kingdom. “If you come with me I will make you ruler.” “God’s not allowing you to live up to your potential, but I will.” “I’m starting a rebellion, come with me.”

And you know some of the angels fell for it. The created intelligence fell for it. Today, man, God’s intelligent being is still falling for it. Most of you will never be tempted to commit some gross sin. Satan will not try to get you to commit adultery, get drunk or commit murder. Instead he will convince you to sit in the church and sow seeds of rebellion. He would rather you do that than to commit murder.

The day that Satan placed his will above the will of God he lost everything. When he rebelled against God he no longer could hold his position in heaven. The same is true of any other creature that decides to place their will above the will of God. One of the most horrible sins is the sin Satan was guilty of, the sin of placing your will above God’s will.

In my next blog I will talk about Satan’s influence in this present world.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Do you believe Satan is real?

The Powers of Darkness: Part 1

As I continue my thoughts on darkness we will move to the “powers of darkness.” I’ll be honest with you. When I began to study on the powers of darkness, mainly studying on Satan, I did so with caution. I do not believe the powers of darkness are something to be messed with, or taken lightly. If God were to roll back the curtain that separates the human world and the spirit world it would scare us to death.

In our example of Judas in the upper room there is no doubt that Judas was under the influence of Satan. The bible says that Satan actually entered into the body of Judas. The job Judas was going to do was so important that Satan could not risk leaving it up to one of his demons. He enters Judas himself to get the job done.

Let me say a couple things about Satan real quick. First let me say that he is the enemy of every child of God. Satan would love nothing more than to destroy your life and the lives of those you love. Let me also point out that Satan does not like to be identified. Ignorance of Satan and ignorance of his motives is his strongest weapon. This is the way he moved in the Garden of Eden and it is still the way he is moving today. In the Garden he was a serpent slithering around. He did not want his true character to be seen, so he concealed it from Eve. This may not be as true here in the South, but the majority of the world does not believe Satan is a real person.

According to 2 Corinthians 2:11 there were some in Paul’s day already deceived about Satan. In Revelation 12:9 we are told that Satan will eventually deceive the entire world. Today the minds of the people are blind. People do not believe Satan is a real force. They have believed his greatest lie which is that a person does not need Jesus to be saved. Satan convinced Eve that she did not have to obey God to be saved. He convinced her that if she ate the fruit she would be a god herself. Today people are working and working. They are trying to earn their way to heaven. They are trying to earn their salvation. They have believed the same lie that Eve believed, “If you do enough you will be a god.”

Today men will get behind a pulpit and tell their congregation that they must do this, that, and the other in order to be saved. Any man that is willing to stand and proclaim that Jesus is the only way will be marked as a target. Satan will try to discourage that preacher and get him to quit, or change his message.

There are at least 40 names given to Satan in the Bible. Consider Revelation 12:9 if you will.

In this one verse he is called by four different names. He is called the “old serpent.” (Isn’t it interesting that here in the last book of the Bible Satan is given the same name as he was in the first. In Eden he appeared to Eve as a serpent. That is why he is called the “old” serpent.)

He is called the “devil”. This comes from the Greek “diabolos” which means to be a slanderer or an accuser.

He is called “Satan” which means the adversary. He is the adversary of God and of God’s people. Peter said this concerning our adversary:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”             1 Peter 5:8

In this passage in 1 Peter there are three names given to him. In Revelation 12 he is the “accuser of the brethren”. In Revelation 9 he is called “Apollyon” which means the destroyer. In 2 Corinthians he is called “Belial” meaning that he is lawless. He is called the “evil one” by our Lord. Jesus taught his disciples to pray that God would deliver them from the “evil one.” What a warning that should be. Jesus even prayed for his disciples stating:

“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”   John 17:15

In Mark’s gospel he is “Beelzebub” or the prince or ruler of demons.

There are many misconceptions about Satan. The biggest misconception being that he is a creature with horns, a forked tail, and cloven feet. This picture of Satan comes from the Middle Ages. In Greek mythology this was the description given to the god Pan, who was the god of pleasure.

Let me further say that Satan is a personality.

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”   John 8:44

The way the bible speaks about Satan we can draw no other conclusion than, Satan is a person. In the previous verse he is a murderer and a liar. The interesting thing is that if you could see Satan today you would be surprised.

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”   2 Corinthians 11:14

This verse tells us that Satan transforms himself into the “angel of light.” If you could see him you would see the most beautiful creature you have ever seen. This is the reason sin is so attractive, because Satan is attractive. Satan is concerned with culture and refinement. He is in the midst of the best things in life.

In my next blog post we will follow Ezekiel to the time of the creation of Satan and see him as one of God’s choice angels. We will also follow Isaiah as he shows us the fall of Satan. Please read along. Hopefully we can learn together, and will not fall for the greatest tick Satan has. (Ignorance!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What to do with your past

In my last blog post I began to talk about “Mental Darkness”. So many people are in a dark place in their mind. The greatest battle most of us will fight will take place in our mind. If the devil can control your mind then he can control your entire person. The Bible teaches how important this principle is. In fact we are told that the church is like a body, Christ being the head or the mind. We are encouraged to pray to have the “mind of Christ.”

I have stated that there are many things that will cause a person to be in a dark state of mind. In my previous blog I wrote about burdens. In this one I want to talk about something else that will cause you to be in a dark mental place, your past.

When you look back over your shoulder what do you see? Do you see things that bring you joy and satisfaction, or do you see things that bring sorrow and heartbreak? One thing that we have to learn to do is to forget the things that are in the past. Paul teaches us in Philippians 3:13-14 that the best thing to do with your past is to “forget about it.”

This is easier said than done. God has blessed every one of us with a special gift called a memory. A memory is a blessing. It’s great to remember your child’s first steps, the day you were married, or the day you were saved.

While there are things that we are supposed to remember there are other things that we are to forget. Too many people go through life crippled by the things that they have done in the past. Let me give you a few things that you should forget.

Let me quickly list a few things you should just forget about.

Stupidities – Let’s face it, we have all done some pretty stupid things. We are going to make mistakes. No doubt there are things in your past that you wish you could change. Sometimes it seems that we can’t do right for doing wrong. You’re not alone if you feel this way.

Remember the story of Peter. Peter was good at two things. One, he was good at making stupid mistakes. Second, he was good at picking himself up, brushing off his pants, and going on. In Matthew we are told the story of Peter walking on the water. You know the story; he takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. I would imagine when Peter makes it back to the boat, and climbs back in he is soaked with water, shivering from the cold and shocked and embarrassed. If that would have been me I maybe would have just quit, but not Peter. We all know the story of Peter denying the Lord on three occasions. We also know the story of Peter standing up on the day of Pentecost. Peter preached one of the greatest messages the world has ever heard and 3,000 people gave their life to Christ. Peter messed up from time to time, but he did not quit.

If you have done something stupid in the past, don’t quit. Pick yourself up, make it right with God and move on. Just forget about it.

Sensitivities - Our world is filled with competition, rivalries, and people with different personalities. It is going to happen; people are going to get their feelings hurt. Many times when we get our feelings hurt we are not able to move forward from it. We stew over it, make plans to get even and carry ill feelings. You would be surprised how many people today are holding onto a grudge.

If you continue to hold onto that grudge it will not be long before you find yourself in a very dark place. The best thing that you can to with those hurt feelings, is just forget it. Forget those things that are behind. Your sensitive nature is hurting you more than anyone else. Your sensitive nature may be inhibiting your walk with God, damaging the relationship you have with your spouse and splitting your family apart.

Remember the story of Haman in the book of Esther? When Mordecai would not bow to him it hurt his feelings. Haman refused to let go of those hurt feelings and eventually it turned into bitterness and anger. This bitterness led him to attempt to have all the Jewish people killed, just to get back at Mordecai. As I said however, your sensitivity will hurt you more than anyone else. Haman was the one who lost his life, along with the lives of his ten children. What is your sensitive nature costing you?

Sorrows - This can be hard to do, but if we are not able to forget about past sorrows then it will bring us to a dark place. Perhaps this year death has knocked on the door of your family. If death did not knock on your door, it will soon. If death did come let me say as loving as I know how, “forget it.” Let me clarify and say that I am not asking you to forget your loved one. I’m asking you to forget your sorrow.
If you are in a dark place please read the story of David in 2 Samuel 12:15-23. The life of David’s child hung in the balances. David wept, fasted and prayed for a solid week. If you read the story you will find that the child eventually dies. Once word came that the child was dead, David picked himself up, cleaned his face, ate, and worshipped God.

If this is you then maybe you need to pick yourself up, and move forward. You can’t bring them back, but one day you will see them again. They can’t live again, but you can live. That is what you should do, live.

Sin - The Bible teaches us that we are all going to sin. The Bible also teaches us that when we sin, we should confess those sins and then move on. I wonder if God gets tired of us reminding Him of our past.

“Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.”   Jeremiah 31:34

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”   Psalm 103:12

One of the hardest things in the world to do is to forget the past, but it may be the best thing you can do.

You can watch this lesson taught live by clicking on the link to the right.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Darkness: A Presence of Mind

In my last blog post I spoke about physical darkness. In the next couple of posts I would like to talk about darkness as a presence of mind. Looking at our example of Judas, the Bible tells us that when he left the upper room it was night. Judas was in a naturally dark place. There is no doubt that at this time in the life of Judas he was mentally in a dark place. Judas has betrayed the Lord for 30 pieces of silver. Before the night is over he will kiss the Lord on the cheek, watch as the authorities take Jesus away, attempt to go back on his decision, and ultimately hang himself. He was in a dark place.

Many are in a dark place in their mind. There are people reading this blog that are fighting battles no one knows about. Some are even fighting battles that they have not told their spouse about. These battles are going on in their mind and some of the most dangerous you can fight.

In this post I want to talk about burdens. There are two types of burdens in the Bible that I would like to share with you. One group of burdens are burdens that we can and should share. Second there are burdens that we must bear alone.

Galatians 6:1-5 talks about two of these types of burdens. There are 11 different words translated into our one English word “burden.” This means that there are different kinds of burdens. Some of these we should learn to share, while other burdens we will have to deal with alone.

Burdens are something that we all have in common. None of us are exempt from burdens. They are common to the human race. Not all of us have the same talents. Not all of us can see. Not all of us can hear. Not all of us have arms and legs. Not all of us are good looking. We have different blood types. All of us have one thing in common and that is burdens. We may not all have the same burdens, but we all have burdens.

The first thing I want you to realize is that if you are carrying a burden, is that you are not alone. So many times when the world crashes in on us we begin to feel like we are all alone. “No one has ever suffered like this before” we might say or think. I want you to know that you are not alone. And you do not have to carry all your burdens alone.

Burdens we should share with others

In verse two the Greek word translated burden is “baros.” This word means “something heavy.” Have you ever heard someone say “I feel like I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders”? Well, that is because burdens are heavy to bear. The thing about a load is that it is only half a load if two people are carrying it. I read a story about a woman who boarded a bus carrying a heavy basket. When she sat down she sat the basket on her lap. A man sitting nearby noticed as they rode how uncomfortable the woman was. The man looked at the woman and said, “If you would put that heavy basket down on the floor, you would find that the bus would carry both you and your load.”

Here are some burdens you can share:

Faults - Everyone has faults. We all are prone to fall down from time to time. The first perfect man, Adam, fell in the Garden of Eden. Abraham, the friend of God, fell when he told the Egyptians that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife. David, a man after God’s heart, fell when he sinned with Bathsheba. I am not a great man of the Bible but I have failed God, and so have you.

According to verse two it is the duty of every spiritual child of God to restore another who is fallen. Why do we think if a person falls, it is our job to drive them further down, or worse yet straighten them out? If a person is burdened with a fault then we should help them to bear that burden.

Stress – Let’s be honest. I have stress, you have stress, and if we are around each other long enough we will start to stress each other out. This is a burden we all deal with. If we could learn to share this with each other then maybe we would be less likely to carry our feelings around on our shoulders.

Grief – This is the burden of sorrow, tragedy and disappointment. We have all lost someone we love. We all have had financial difficulty. We have all had problems at home. You are not alone in this burden. When we have this type of problem we do our best to hide it from everyone, while the best thing we could do would be to share it with someone.

Job’s three friends sat with him for seven days, never saying a word, to share his grief with him. Ruth could say to Boaz “thou hast comforted me.” Mary broke open an alabaster box and poured it on the Lord. She was the only one that understood the burden that Christ was facing. Let’s help each other when we can. A burden shared is a burden divided, but a blessing shared is a blessing multiplied.

Burdens we must bear alone:

The Greek word for burden in verse 5 is the word “phortion”. This word means “a load to be borne.” This word speaks of a child in the womb of its mother. This load is impossible to share with someone else.

Suffering – No one can suffer for you. Physical problems are something that we cannot share with others. So many times I would have gladly taken sickness away from my children and placed it upon myself if I could. This is impossible to do

Death – When it comes time to die, you cannot share this burden with another. Each of us will travel through the valley of the shadow of death alone.

Judgment - We will all stand before God for ourselves. I will not answer for you, and you will not answer for me.

In my next blog I want to talk about what to do with your past. If you would like to watch this lesson taped live click on the link to the right.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Darkness: Physical Darkness

Darkness is something that each of us have experienced. It gets dark each night. In some parts of the world it is dark for months at a time. Darkness is something that we are so used to that we do not pay much attention to it. I have found that darkness is a pretty interesting topic in the Bible.

Darkness is Made by the Divine

In the book of Genesis we are told that in the beginning the earth was without form, it was void and that darkness completely covered the earth. It remained dark right up to the time that God moved upon the face of the earth and created light. Before the first tree, the first insect, the first animal, one thing covered the earth. When the earth was made God created darkness to cover it.

We know in the account of creation, God looked upon the earth and determined that it was not good for the earth to be in a constant state of darkness so he created great lights to rule over the day and night. These great lights are the sun and the moon. But, before God created the sun or the moon He created darkness.

Some have said that there is no such thing as darkness there is just the absence of light. Others believe that darkness is not something God created, but rather something that was just always here. I would ask you to consider the following verses.

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”   Isaiah 45:7

“Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.”   Psalms 104:20

It seems that darkness is one of the Lord’s greatest creations. Have you ever considered that without the creation of both light and darkness we would be unable to determine the time of day, the days of the week, the weeks of the month or the months of the year? Everything God does is done with order, therefore one of His first, and greatest creations was darkness.

Darkness is Measured in Degrees

Darkness is referred to in many different ways in the Bible.

Great darkness – In Genesis 15:12 we find the story of God speaking to Abraham, as He did so many times. Abraham was praying for a child, when God speaks to him and commands him to look into the sky. God then challenges him to count the stars, promising that his children will be innumerable just as the stars are innumerable. As they are speaking back and forth it keeps getting later and later into the night. At this point the Bible says that “an horror of great darkness” came upon Abraham.

Have you ever been outside and it was not just dark, but it was really dark? This is great darkness.

Darkness that could be felt – In Exodus 10:21 we find that God punishes the hard hearted Pharaoh and his people with a punishment of darkness. This darkness was so great the people could not leave their homes for three days. It is said that this darkness was so great that you could actually feel the darkness.

God will use the punishment of darkness again. According to the book of Revelation God will punish the wicked with darkness on three different occasions.

Thick darkness – When God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses we are told that He spoke to Moses out of “thick darkness.” You can read this story in Deuteronomy 5:22

Gross darkness – In Jeremiah 13:16 the prophet warns the people to glorify God. If this people continued refusing to give God the glory He rightly deserved the result would be “gross darkness.”

Extreme darkness – The most terrible form of darkness is “extreme darkness.” Extreme darkness is the darkness found in Hell. In Matthew 8:12 we are told of those that were to be cast into “outer darkness.” The word “outer” means to be extreme. Those that go to hell will suffer many punishments; one of them will be the punishment of extreme darkness.

Darkness is Miraculously Displayed

There are several times in the Bible when God performed miracles of darkness.

Sinai – As mentioned God spoke to Moses out of darkness. We also read in the book of Hebrews that the mountain itself was covered with darkness. Anyone who touched the mountain, or came close to the darkness would die.

Egypt – I have previously mentioned the punishment of darkness, but it more than just a punishment, it was a miracle. It was a miracle that the Egyptians could not see to leave their homes, but the Jews had light in their homes.

Calvary – We all know the story of the cross. While the Lord hung on the brutal cross, God caused the sun to become dark for three hours. How miraculous it must have been when all of a sudden God just turned the lights out.

Just after the tribulation – One last time the Lord will perform a miracle of darkness. According to Matthew 24:29 just after the tribulation God will turn the lights off. When he does this the earth will shake, stars will fall from the sky and the heavens themselves will shake.

The next time its dark I hope you think of this lesson and realize that you are experiencing a creation of God. God created all things. All things are created for His pleasure. He has a purpose for all of His creations, and will use them in whatever way needed to bring glory to Himself.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Judas (The Traitor)

A couple of months ago, I blogged about something that had come to my mind one night at church. I wrote that while listening to my preacher speak about the “Last Supper,” I started thinking of Judas, and the word darkness. I have developed that thought a little more and started sharing these thoughts with my Sunday school class. I thought I would share some of this with you as well.

In John’s gospel, chapter 13, we have the record of the Lord with his disciples in the upper room. In verses 18-30 John focuses his attention on the traitor (Judas). It is interesting that when John writes this he is looking back some sixty to seventy years. This far removed from the event he is still disgusted with Judas.

Judas was chosen by Christ to be a disciple. Judas had chosen to become a disciple on his own free will. It was also by his own free will that he became a traitor. Greed, dishonesty, and his own self ambitions drove him to this decision. He was not forced to become a disciple, and he was not forced to become a traitor. While in the upper room Jesus gives Judas several opportunities to repent, but Judas does not. Jesus even took steps to expose Judas, but even then he would not repent.

Verse 27 marks the exact moment in which Judas crossed the line of no return. At this moment Satan moves into the body of Judas. Up to this point Judas has been possessed by evil intentions, but now he is possessed by the evil one. Jesus knew the moment it happened. Jesus looks into the eyes of Judas, but instead of Judas looking back it was the eyes of Satan looking back at the Lord. When this happened Jesus had no choice but to dismiss Judas from the room. Jesus had things to speak about with His disciples, and could not do so with Satan in the room.

In verse thirty Judas leaves the light of the upper room and immediately is surrounded by darkness. No doubt it took him a moment to get his bearings and to adjust to the darkness outside. From this moment on Judas’ name would forever be synonymous with treachery. Judas left the light of the upper room. Judas left the light of the world sitting in the upper room. What a fitting picture “and it was night.”

I would like to take the next couple few blog posts and talk about this word darkness. In the life of Judas I can see four different types of darkness. Each of these four types of darkness is spoken about in the Bible.

  1. Darkness is a physical occurrence. It was night time. It was dark outside.
  2. Darkness is a presence of mind. Judas was in a dark place in his mind at this time.
  3. Darkness is a power. The power of Satan was working in the life of Judas.
  4. Darkness is a place. Before the night is through Judas will go out and hang himself, and to a very dark place.