the bad days

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-20

There are good days and pretty good days, not bad, and then there are the bad days, hopefully not too many. Actually the passage quoted above may well be referring to the time in which we live, simply because we face the onslaught of the enemy. I know there are plenty of believers in Christ nowadays who chalk up the notion of the devil and demons to simply evil in general. When you consider everything, there’s something going on which defies an easy dismissal or explanation. Which is why in a world which denies truth, the word evil is still used, pointing, I think to something more beyond the relativism so prevalent. And to our personal lives, some days there seems to be an uncanny sense of an ongoing struggle and darkness at work, which casts a shadow on all that is good, so that we have trouble seeing the good. The Apostle Paul (click the link above) had no difficulty describing precisely what he believed is going on.

Scripture is rich with many places in which the person of faith is struggling, and all but left for dead in their mind, even with a sense of being abandoned by God. See especially the psalms to find plenty of that, and elsewhere.

As we’ve said before, and it is worth repeating, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. To know the problem, and what one faces is half the battle. The rest of it is to take up what God gives us in Christ and the gospel, and learn to stand in the midst of it all. Interpreting the spiritual warfare passage linked above as something for this present evil time when evil is so prevalent and active in the world is probably the best explanation, or sense of the passage. The thought the NIV gets across, that there may especially be a day that is evil, is also appropriate. But even with the NIV rendering, we are told to always be ready, so that everyday we are learning to live in the mighty strength of God, taking up the armor of God in and through Christ and the gospel.

Every day has a certain struggle to it, but bad days do come. And they go. And in the midst of it all, we need to remember the resources provided for us. And approach it as those who not only can face evil, but resist it. Knowing in the end it will someday be done away with forever. In the meantime we can be prepared for the day of evil in and through Jesus.

Advertisements

signs and wonders (and even prophesying) not enough

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

2 Thessalonians 2

Paranormal activity is well documented, and the biblical narrative certainly takes it seriously. Of course there are God’s miracles, literally signs and wonders, which point to God himself, and God’s word, to the gospel. They are unusual in scripture, but found in pockets, it seems. And the church according to 1 Corinthians 12 can have that element within the body in the form of giftings from God on some of God’s people (perhaps individuals here and there) through which extraordinary things happen. Certainly miracles accompanied Jesus in his ministry, especially in the healings, and exorcism of demons.

The point of this post is simply to say that miracles in themselves prove nothing as to their source. We can define miracle, by the way, as that which is out of the ordinary, perhaps seemingly breaking the laws of nature, therefore called supernatural. According to scripture, God holds everything together, so that God can do what he pleases at any time with what exists. But there’s also an usurper, a pretender, who does have a measure of power, the angelic kind, though in this sense perverted, which can bring about miracles, as in the scripture above, “signs and wonders that serve the lie.”

And in Deuteronomy 13, there’s a warning not to be taken in by prophesyings and miracles which on the surface seem to be authentic, and perhaps in some ways are, but actually pull people away from God and the truth, and essentially substantiate and support what they want to hear.

There is the danger of attributing to Satan what is actually the work of the Holy Spirit. But we are told to test all things, including prophesyings, with the benchmark that we’re to hold on to what is good, but reject whatever is not (1 Thessalonians 5). We need a discernment coming from both the Spirit and the word. Deception can occur not only in the world, but in the church. The safety we have from that is found in the gospel: the power of God through the weakness of the cross, the wisdom of God through the foolishness of the message of a crucified Lord (1 Corinthians 1).

We need discernment, and all the more when people are vulnerable for understandable reasons to deception. We all need the bread of God’s word, and the living Bread who came down out of heaven, and now gives life to the world. Jesus is the one we turn to in the midst of our confusion and darkness. Even while along with the church we continue to turn the pages of scripture, and ask God for the discernment we need, in and through Jesus.

 

 

the wiles of the devil

in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

I once heard a pastor who I respect (now with the Lord) tell us that we should simply ignore the devil. He wasn’t making a point for a specific context, but from what I could tell was saying this was to be our general attitude and practice as believers in Jesus. I think at certain times that can be helpful and I’ve told others the same. But it isn’t the entire counsel of God from scripture as to how we’re to approach this inevitable problem. Yes, there is a devil and there are demons. And in spite of our Enlightenment heritage bequeathed to us all that really we know better, and things like this can be explained in terms of mental illness, etc., not to deny the latter and at times even in this context, other societies in the world not only have no problem believing this, but understand it firsthand from what they have seen with their own eyes. The evil spirits can be quite demonstrative in certain contexts. But for us who are not as versed in that, it matters not at all. We also know firsthand their wily resistance so as to move us away from the gospel of Christ, from grace. They usually take the indirect way at this, chipping away at foundations in our lives, along the edges, along all of life. Though sometimes they are blatant and direct. By and by the believer especially with help from other believers and from the church will learn to recognize their presence and activity and then learn to act according to God’s will in the circumstance. Not easy, maybe even a tall order, but with the help of God by the Spirit while being in scripture we can learn discernment over time. The Lord will help us, certainly and in a sense especially the youngest in faith. It seems like as we go along, the way becomes more difficult for us. And yet at the same time through the experience of living over time we should have more to go on, to draw from in and through the faith that is in Jesus. I think it’s way past time for me to read again and draw from a resource to the church: C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.

The most simple way to put our needed stance when it comes to the enemy and their tricks is simply to resist by standing firm in faith. The Ephesians 6 passage especially makes that clear. But it’s a resistance in Christ, in the grace and power of the gospel or good news of Christ. It is the truth which sets us free. We have to persevere through the sea of lies. The truth and love in Jesus must prevail. There are no easy steps such as one, two, three. Perhaps the most instructive passage for us to become steeped and practiced in is the Ephesians 6:10-20 passage, already cited (and linked) here. We need to be aware of the battle lines drawn and then take our stand in faith on the truth and power of the gospel of Christ.