Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lord, Is It Warfare? Week 2, Day 2 & A Short Rabbit Trail

This study guide, devotional Lord, Is It Warfare? has been designed in such a way that we are asked questions that aren’t leading but rather to help us to get to an understanding of what the Bible has to say about spiritual warfare.  Years ago, I can remember a writer, whom I have long forgotten, giving the advice that we are to interrogate the text when we are studying Scripture.  This is a very effective way to gain more than just a superficial knowledge of Scripture.  If you can recall the old description of an adverb, it is a word that describes who, what, when, where, and to what extent.  Those are useful questions to ask when you are looking at the Bible.

When we take a first look at the enemy, who is deceptive, deadly, and intent on destroying everyone who is in allegiance with Jesus Christ, we find him in Genesis 3.  A couple of other OT chapters also give a description of him.  There is the brief allusion that Isaiah makes in Isaiah 14 and there is a bit longer region in Ezekiel 28.  It is a passage that has reference to the king of Tyre but many biblical scholars also hold that imagery used by Ezekiel would fit the bill for the devil also.  What causes us to come to this view is because of the words that the prophet uses would in no way entirely describe a man.  While there are some descriptions that would fit a human king, there are also words that help us to see that the devil would qualify in this description also.

What follows are the characteristics that are found in the ESV:

v. 12
·        The signet of perfection was on him.
·        He was full of wisdom.
·        He was perfect in beauty.

v. 13
·        He was in Eden.
·        Every precious stone served as a covering:  sardius, topaz, diamond, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; all of which was crafted in gold.  (NOTE:  The devil is often portrayed as a dark character who is deformed and terribly ugly.  But the Bible would seem to indicate that the devil is a very desirable figure to be associated with.  He is someone that most would want to be around.  It is the finished work of sin that creates all of the calamities and destruction of life.)

v. 14

·        Anointed guardian cherub.  (NOTE:  This opens up the possibility of looking into the various levels of authority and hierarchy among angels and demons.)

v. 15
·        Blameless in his ways.
·        But unrighteousness found you.  (NOTE:  Sin always leaves a crippling effect on our lives.  It can change heaven into hell.)

v. 16
·        He was filled with violence in the midst of God.  (NOTE:  This is a hint at the war that took place in heaven.  Maybe you are familiar with the works of the old poet/dramatist/writer John Milton.  He writes in his Paradise Lost about the battle that took place in heaven with the fall of the devil.  The description he gives as he allows his imagination to take you to the council chambers of the devil are quite thought provoking.) 
·        I (God) cast you (the devil) as a profane thing from heaven.  (NOTE:  This is the same description that Scripture gives of Esau.) 

v. 17
·        His heart was proud because of his beauty.  (NOTE:  Multiple biblical characters fall to this trap that the devil so carefully lays.  Absalom, Delilah, and perhaps even Jezebel can be identified with this crowd.  Note the times that the Proverbs speaks of men and women who are vain.  Their vanity ends up being a huge liability for them.) 
·        His wisdom was corrupted because of the beauty and splendor.
·        He was cast to the earth.  (NOTE:  We ought to give great consideration to where the devil was and the position that he held prior to being expelled from heaven.  Anything that removes us from the presence of the Lord is not worth the cost of fellowship with the Lord.)

v. 18
·        He was guilty of committing unrighteousness in his trade.  (NOTE:  The trade of the devil was music and worship.  It would suffice to make the connection to the fact that he attached worship, music, and evil together in such a way that it caused pride to move him to spiritual danger.  This would be a crucial and necessary lesson for all who are involved in leading worship and leading music in a holy setting.)
·        He profaned his sanctuary (heaven).
·        He was placed into a place of shame (ashes on the earth).

v. 19
·        All who know him and see him are truly appalled at what has happened to him.
·        He will come to a dreadful end. 

At this point, we have finished the content for Day 2 but as I was working through this, there were several rabbit trails that came to mind from Scripture and I would like to follow one of them.  As noted in a previous post, C. S. Lewis noted that the two dangers are to totally ignore the devil and the other is to become obsessed with him.  While there are very dark forces at work in opposition to all who have been Spirit-filled, we can also be certain that we are not without responsibility in our walk with the Lord.  Therefore, I believe that it is spiritually immature and irresponsible when there is a tendency to excuse behavior because we are under “spiritual attack.”  This was noted in a post earlier that there are demons behind idols (1 Cor. 10:20) that make their way into our lives, however Paul was very clear that there is a responsibility to seek and pursue holiness and fruitfulness in our walk with the Lord.

When he was addressing the problems at Corinth we never see where that he confronts demons of division, immorality, or lawsuits.  Here is what Paul says, “Fix your dissensions by becoming unified through the work of reconciliation” (1 Cor. 1:10).  When there is the darkness of incestuous immorality in the church, he does not tell them to take on the demon of immorality but rather they are to exercise righteous and authoritative judgment and remove the sinning member (1 Cor. 5).  When they have problems with civil cases and are seeking to sue each other, he urges them toward giving up their selfishness that has put them into a place of confrontation (1 Cor. 6).  When there is chaos at the communion table, Paul never tells them to cast out the spirit of disorder, gluttony, or drunkenness but rather he implores them to examine themselves (1 Cor. 11:28, 33). 

Later on in this study, we shall come to the portion of text in Ephesians 6 that speaks of the spiritual armor.  As have already noted that Ephesus was a hotbed of the occult, what we find in that epistle are some very practical matters of Christian living.  The Ephesians 4 portion of “put off. . . put on” are very helpful when we see the empowering work of the Spirit is not necessarily for men to fight devils but live their lives in sober, holy, and reverent state.  The Ephesians 5-6, wives are to submit to their husbands, husbands are to love their wives, and children are to obey their parents and employees (slaves. . . lol) are to be model employees.  So before a pastor gets up and romps and stomps rebuking devils of alcohol, fornication, cigarettes, and so forth. . . before a husband starts rebuking demons of divorce and mouthy women. . . maybe he needs a prayer meeting and a sharp Bible study to help him to see the way and his personal responsibility to walk out the disciplines of holiness that God has for him.  This is how the Word works!!! 

There are practices that we should develop in our lives as saints of God that cause us to be more Christ-like.  The practice of saying, “The devil made me do it” is not one of those.  I am gripped by the character traits of spiritual leaders that Paul wrote for us in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and I long to model them in my own life.  To do so, I have to seek the Lord as I read them, muse on them, memorize them, and let the gentle work of the Holy Ghost draw me on as a greater anointing and maturity.  They are incorporated into my steps as I choose to allow my heart to be submissive to the Word.  I will not have them because I walk around casting out demons of this-and-that.  The enemy would love to turn me into a cartoon character by stimulating this kind of activity.  This is not the way to walk. . . that would be about as foolish as handling snakes, drinking strychnine, and juggling fire. . . 

More tomorrow. . .


Thanks for reading. . .

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