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Are We to Love Our Great Enemy, Satan?

28 Jun

lucifer-cast-out-of-heaven-dore

“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Mark 5:44).

Jesus not only preached these familiar words as part of his Sermon on the Mount to his disciples, but he also modeled them by speaking to, eating with, and even dying for sinners (Rom. 5:8). But is this a universal truth to be applied in all cases? In his explanation of the Parable of the Tares, Jesus tells the disciples that “The enemy who sowed [the tares] is the Devil” (Matt. 13:39a). Simple logic would argue like this: Jesus commands us to love our enemies; Satan is our enemy; therefore, we must love Satan. But is that true? Are we to love our great enemy, Satan?

The problem with the logic above is that it does not take into account the contexts of the passages or the differences between humans and the Devil. When Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, he commands us to do what he himself does, i.e. love the seemingly unlovable. Jesus speaks of loving his Father (John 14:31); he speaks of loving people (John 3:16); nowhere in Scripture does Jesus declare love for Satan. It is also true that Scripture never tells us directly that Jesus hates Satan. What does Scripture teach us about how Jesus views Satan? Is there enough to help us answer the question posed above?

God reveals a lot to us about how he views Satan and how we should also view him. We know that Satan somehow rejected God and his authority in ages past and was forever cast out of God’s loving presence (Rev. 12:7–9). We know that Satan is forever condemned (I Tim. 3:6). We know that hell was prepared for Satan and the other demons (Matt. 25:41). We know that hell is a place void of God’s love and only filled with God’s wrath and judgment (Matt. 8:12; 25:46; 2 Thes. 1:9; Rev. 21:8). Satan and the angels of darkness (demons) have no hope of salvation; they are utterly lost forever. Satan’s future is only sure judgment and torment (Rev. 20:10). He is the epitome of evil as all his names and titles reinforce: Satan “Adversary”, Devil, Deceiver, Tempter, Beelzebub “Lord of the Flies/Dung”, Ruler of Demons,  Enemy, Liar, Father of Lies, Murderer, Belial “Vile”, Abbadon “Destroyer”, Accuser, etc. Truly Satan is the “Evil One” (Matt. 6:13).

Scripture teaches clearly that Satan is nothing but evil and has no hope of restoration, forgiveness, or salvation. He is completely contrary to Jesus Christ and always fighting against the will of God. Christ does not love Satan, and there is no future grace to be shown to him. Yes, we are to love our fellow humans, even our enemies, but we are not to love Satan. We are to hate evil (Psa. 97:10; Prov. 8:13; Amos 5:15), and Satan is the most complete manifestation of evil.

*photo source: https://center-for-tanakh-based-studies.com/2016/02/18/was-satan-cast-out-of-heaven/

Pursuing a Spouse: 20 Pointers from Our Patriarchs

31 Jan

We live in a particular society, during a specific epoch, when people’s priorities and the expectations upon them are focused overwhelmingly on education and occupation. Certainly these are very important life considerations that warrant prayerful discernment, but life is not so compartmentalized that we can avoid the effects on other areas of life.

For many, many people, the expectations, priorities, and perhaps also the all too prevalent narcissism, can have unintended consequences on relationships. These observations of course are generalizations, but they are influential enough to play a role in the ever-increasing, median marital age in the United States. In around 1960, the marital age was about 20 years and 22 years for women and men respectively; today it is nearly 27 and 29 years old. Note that the numbers reflect the median age, which means there are plenty of others that are marrying for the first time at significantly higher ages. But that is not the whole story. In 1960, according to the same Pew poll mentioned above, about 15% of people never married in the United States; today that number is nearly 30%. This is not only due to focused aspirations, but likely the devaluing of marriage as well. Some think, “What’s the point in getting married when I can live with someone and sleep with someone without the responsibility and commitment inherent in marriage?” Others see marriage having so little honor that even entering into the covenant isn’t really a commitment at all.

The point here is not to deal with the issues or to digress despairingly about society’s view on marriage, but to show how marriage has in general increasingly become less of a priority for people earlier on in their lives. It has, for better or for worse, often been pushed to the back-burner for a later time when other goals have been first accomplished. For many, marriage has become less of a determined pursuance and more of a hopeful passivity. There are fewer who actively prepare for marriage and pursue it. We would be wise to teach our generations that our growth in the Lord, our sanctification, also affects who we will be as husbands or wives, fathers or mothers. This is not to say that we should wait for perfection, as if that were possible. Everyone will forever need to grow and mortify the sins in the flesh; we will continually need to repent and seek the Lord. But are we seeking to become the types of spouses and parents we hope to be? Would you want to marry someone like you?

The list below contains some biblical pointers for those who are desiring to enter into marriage. The scriptural principles can benefit anyone. Yet, particularly on my heart are those who are despondent because they feel they are waxing old, and for those who are young and want to prepare for their courting and subsequent marriages.

As with all areas of life, Scripture has guidance and wisdom to impart to us; here we consider what Holy Writ has to say regarding the pursuance of a spouse. Here are 21 pointers from the pages of Genesis (mainly from the account of the pursuing of Isaac’s wife, Rebecca):

  1. You should have a desire for a husband or wife (not just for a fling). (24:67; 28:2-7; 29:18.) These were pursuing wives to marry.
  2. You should be determined to pursue a spouse who is pleasing to the Lord (24:4-6). One whom meditates on God’s Word (Psa. 1).
  3. If your desire is for someone who persistently has no desire for you, move on (24:8, 49).
  4. Trust the process to God, who knows your heart, knows what is best for you, and will bring about his will (24: 7, 40).
  5. Do not pursue a person, or in a manner, that is contrary to God’s will for obedience and holiness (chap. 16; Lev. 20:7).
  6. Be deliberately on the look out in the right places, for the right things, for the right qualities (24:11, 43).
  7. Pray persistently (24:12, 42-44).
  8. Don’t pursue someone just for their physical attraction. Subjective physical attractiveness, while lovely and important, ought to take a back seat to God’s will (24:16, 64-65, see also Jacob’s desire for Rachel (chap. 29ff); Judges 14:3).
  9. Seize opportunities boldly (24:17).
  10. Seek a kind and giving husband or wife, i.e. have moral criteria (24:18-20, 46-47).
  11. Give careful consideration to the man or woman you are pursuing (24:21).
  12. Show commitment and intent (24:22).
  13. Consider carefully the family you will potentially marry in to (24:23-25).
  14. Do not take for granted the input of wise family members. It is beneficial to consider/accept help from wise counsel (24:3-4, 37-38; 27:46; 28:1-2; vs. 28:8-9).
  15. Always give thanks and gratitude to the Lord (24:26-27, 48, 52).
  16. Choose a spouse that shares a common faith in the Lord (24:31, 38, 50-51; see also Gen 6:4; 1 Cor. 7:39; 9:5; 2 Cor. 6:14).
  17. Choose, or be, a man who is willing to provide for his wife (24:35-36).
  18. If all be properly right, there is no need to wait too long a time to get married (24:67). Such prolonged waits have resulted in couples succumbing to temptation.
  19. Be determined to treat your wife and your marriage with love and respect. Do not follow the examples of Abraham and Isaac when they disowned their wives out of fear and almost defiled the marriage bed (12:11-20; chapt. 20; 26:7-11).
  20. Be determined to fiercely guard the marriage bed (Heb. 13:4; as opposed to Gen 16 and 30).

Why Love With More Than Words?

2 Apr

WHY LOVE WITH MORE THAN WORDS?

1-Words can be misleading and/or empty.
2-Words often cost us little; they do not usually require much personal sacrifice for another’s benefit.
3-We are instructed to: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 John iii.18).

These are all good reasons for loving beyond words, but I think the raison par excellence is that
4-Such love is exemplified in Jesus.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John xv.13).
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. v.8).

As we remember and solemnly celebrate the death of Christ Jesus for our sin, we see that he not only modeled this high love by willingly submitting to humiliation, scourging, piercing, and dying for his friends, but he did so while we were yet sinners–at enmity with God. Such a perfect, active deed of love reconciles the sinner to God for those who place their faith in Jesus; so that the bridge of enmity is vanquished, and we are brought near to God as beloved children. By all means, friends, love one another with the wonderful gift of language which can brighten the soul and lift the affections. But love beyond mere words–love with action, thereby showing your words to be true. And love God with more than mere words, though he loves them most dearly. Love him by seeking after godliness, which is his will for you and me. Love him through obedience, for it is Jesus who says, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John xiv.15). Love him by praying to him, reading his Word, giving your time to him, resisting sin for him, worshiping him, using what he has entrusted to you for him, being active in the Church that Jesus died to save, and love him by showing your love to one another. Let our words be proven by living out our love.

“Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God shouldst die for me.” -Amazing Love

Be Not Surprised

12 Jul

Christian, let us not be surprised at the hardness of worldly hearts. How can we expect those yet “enslaved to various lusts and pleasures,” like we once were, to desire the will of God (Titus 3)? We still struggle against sin having had our hearts softened and our eyes opened. Let us, therefore, certainly promote and stand for the things of God, not denying the good truth found in the Word,  yet be men and women of grace, patience, love, compassion, and faith,  hoping too that the joyous message of salvation may soften even the hardest, coldest, deadest of hearts.

Our Sin, His Tomb

19 Apr

Num 25:11
“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.”

Brothers and sisters, being zealous with the zeal of the LORD includes the abhorrence of sin. It ought to make us SICK when we sin; it ought to be a rotting, putrid stench to our souls. For in it we agnize once again that we participated in crucifying our Lord Jesus. Let us remember on this day how our Saviour’s body was lying, wrapped in linen, in a borrowed tomb, in utter darkness, for our sin.

…but we need not remain in despondancy, for tomorrow our Joy and eternal Hope shine anew in the promised resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Hallelulia!

The Glory Has Departed

18 Mar

1 Samuel 4

A big change occurred that devastated the region – a shift in God’s support. Even the polytheistic, unbelieving Philistines knew the power of God:

The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come up the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who shall deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who smote the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness.”

But God gave favor to the Philistines, allowing them to overtake the army of Israel and capture the ark of God (the special, holy item which meant the particular presence and favor of God). This is the scene we find in 1 Samuel 4. The reason for this massive change was sin. The people of Israel had turned their hearts from God toward the world. They were respecters of people rather than of God. They had lost their first love. God was enacting promised judgment and correction upon them in order to guide them to repentance. Even in their sin, the people knew that this was a big deal. They were the chosen people. They were the heirs of the promise. How could the ark be taken? What would this mean? Has God rejected Israel? Listen to some of the reactions: 

12 Now a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head. [signs of mourning and grief]
When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God. [He trembled not because of the death of his people or his sons, but for what was considered a greater loss – the ark.].

So the man came to tell it in the city, and all the city cried out. [The whole city grieved.]

When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. [It was the theft of the ark, not the death of his sons that caused him to fall over.]

Phinehas’s wife, was pregnant and about to give birth; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she kneeled down and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken. [She went into pre-term labor and died. It mentions the deaths of her family, but the emphasis is still on the ark.]

There are times when God’s favor abounds in the presence of sin, to bring us back to him (Rom 2.4). There too are times when God enacts consequences, also out of love, for the same purpose. He did this when the people sinned in the wilderness following their great rescue from the hands of the Egyptians. He did this in the time of the Judges. He did this in the time of Eli in the passages above. He did this when Judah and Israel were taken captive by the Babylonians (Jer. 46.26) and the Assyrians (Ezek. 23). He still does this with us today. Our Lord does not take it lightly when we trade what is good for what is destitute and damnable. When we sin, God not only cares because it a great offence against him, but also because he loves and protects us as a good father does his child. When God’s people sin, he urges us to turn back in obedience to what we know is right, according to the example we have in Jesus and biblical truth.

“MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
6 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12 excerpt)

Maybe to you, “the glory has departed.” There’s probably a good reason. There’s a good chance that is because you are seeking ultimate satisfaction in something, anything, other than Christ Jesus. Let me assure you, God is near…he is omnipresent after all. Furthermore, if you are a genuine follower of Christ, His Spirit dwells within you and he promises never to leave or forsake you. You might be in a similar place as Israel in 1 Samuel 4. God might be teaching you what it is like to feel his absence so that you will realize your sin, repent, and set your eyes firmly on him. God spoke about this very thing through the prophet Malachi: “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return’” (Malachi 3.7)? The answer: by whole-heartedly humbling ourselves, asking for forgiveness, turning from our sin to our Maker and Savior who loves us, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and finding our delight in the merciful LORD. Cry out with the psalmist, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Ps 25.16).

As Christ Forgave You

26 Jul

Colossians 3:12-14 NASB

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”

I was recently pondering forgiveness, and more specifically the forgiveness we have of our sins in Jesus Christ. Along with many others, I believe Christ’s death definitely accomplished something on that cross – not just potentially, but certainly. That something was the forgiveness of the sins of his people, his body, his bride; that death was once, and for all time, for those tresspasses – past, present, and future.

It was three days later that Christ was raised again for our justification – to make us holy before the father as if we hadn’t sinned (Romans 4.25). What man could not do, God did (Isaiah 59). Having cleansed us and made us righteous before the Father, in and through the righteousness of Jesus, our sin is separated from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103). Hallelujah!

In our Colossians text, Paul instructs us to forgive one another as Christ has already forgiven us. Now if Christ has forgiven us of all our sin (past, present, and future), ought not we to forgive fellow believers in the same manner? Are not we to forgive our brothers and sisters 70 x 7 times, as Jesus instructed Peter (Matthew 18.21), so that there may be unity within the body of Christ? Truly as humans, we are fallible and incapable of living this out to perfection, but are we as Christians not to work toward this end? Can we labour to forgive and accept our brothers and sisters for sins they have already committed, currently are committing, and may yet commit? Can we devote ourselves to one another with this level of commitment?

With this mindset, how many marriages, families, church families, and friendships would be saved? Although this is not so easily carried out, as evidenced by countless societal examples, we can look for hope and guidance in the model set before us in Colossians 3.14, where we are instructed to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity”.

To this end, and until He comes again, may we love one another as Christ loved us (John 15.12).