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Posts Tagged ‘enemy’

screwtape

In 2 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul begins to defend himself within the Corinthian Church.  He had been encouraging and instructing in the preceding chapters.  Now, his tone completely changes.  He began to deal with the fact that there were false apostles, false teachers, and false teachings in this church that were presenting in the form of competition and defaming of his own personal character as well as a concerted effort to discredit him personally and deny him the authority he had been given by God to lead and teach in this church.

Paul begins with humility agreeing with his accusers that he was indeed low and mild when present among them.  Paul makes clear that he has no desire to be rough or overbearing even despite the severe and abusive slander being spread about him personally.  Paul is not about to stoop to that level, although he does make it very clear that he is both equipped and prepared with the authority given to him by God to punish offense done against him.  It was hindering the gospel which, in turn, made it an offense done to the gospel itself.

Paul points not to his own power, but to the wonder-working power of God over the spiritual realm.  Consider his words:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” ~2 Corinthians 10:3-6

He’s like, “Hey, guys!  This confusion and conflict and disunity we find in this particular church has nothing to do with the superficial problems or isolated issues that everyone wants to argue over.  This conflict is spiritual.  Everything going on here is a result of unseen forces working to destroy and devour God’s people and God’s plan.  There is bondage here – spiritual bondage that we must wage war against.  Spiritual strongholds are just that – spirits strongly holding people captive by deceit, by confusion, by ignorance, by prejudice, by lust, by lofty, high and prideful thoughts and opinions which contradict God and His will. These things are not trite or trivial.  They are a force waging an all out war against us all.  Thank God, that in his grace he has given us weapons with divine power.  Divine power!  The very power of God!  These are weapons which are able to defeat these forceful, spiritual strongholds.

That’s why I’m not gonna play your game of fleshly and worldly comparison.  We have a war to fight and that war is not against each other.  We have only one enemy and his name is Satan.  The war is against demonic forces evidenced in these conflicts and character assassinations being brought against me personally.”

“Ignorance, prejudices, beloved lusts, are Satan’s strongholds in the souls of some; vain imaginations, carnal reasonings, and high thoughts, or proud conceits, in others, exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, that is, by these ways the devil endeavours to keep men from faith and obedience to the gospel, and secures his possession of the hearts of men, as his own house or property.  But then observe, the conquest which the word of God gains.  These strongholds are pulled down by the gospel as the means, through the grace and power of God accompanying it as the principal efficient cause…The apostle speaks not of personal revenge, but of punishing disobedience to the gospel, and disorderly walking among church-members, by inflicting church censures.  Not, thought eh apostle showed meekness and gentleness, yet he would not betray his authority; and therefore intimates that when he would commend those whose obedience was fulfilled or manifested others would fall under severe censures.” Matthew Henry

Paul had every right and reason to punish this blatant disobedience to the gospel but he was waiting for the fulfillment and completion of their obedience first.  Later, in verse 10-11, he references again their complaint of him and responds:

For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.

In other words, Paul doesn’t say things right.  Who does he think he is?  Writing corrective letters but showing up and speaking softly?!  His speech is all wrong.  Why would we listen to him?!

If you hate what someone is saying and you want to avoid the truth of it, a great strategy is to just personally attack them and incessantly complain about how they say it.

Paul answers by pointing to his actions.  Actions speak louder than words.  If you find someone who doesn’t talk like you or walk like you but they walk like Christ, think about who they are called to follow and imitate.  It isn’t you or your preferences.  It is Jesus Christ and His practices.

Paul goes on to oppose their worldly comparison games and refuses to participate.  He restates his purpose – which was edification for the church, not destruction as he was so often and brutally accused.

Herein we find both the cause and the remedy for conflict, confusion, and disunity within a divided church.  The cause is spiritual strongholds and evil influence warring against God and His people.  The remedy is using the weapons which are listed for us in Ephesians 6 as truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer.  These are the things which, when used appropriately, have divine power to destroy the enemy’s schemes and free our brothers and sisters from spiritual bondage.  Thank God!

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood.  Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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Elihu has come on the scene agreeing with Job about his friends’ wrongness and hurtful accusations.  He has come with humility and with patience by citing his youth and biding his time before speaking.  In Job chapter 33, Elihu seeks not to drop a couple truth bombs, prove his point, and exit stage left.  Instead, he plans, prepares, and presents his case with concern, clarity, and compassion.

Behold, I am toward God as you are;
    I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.
7 Behold, no fear of me need terrify you;
    my pressure will not be heavy upon you.

8 “Surely you have spoken in my ears,
    and I have heard the sound of your words.
9 You say, ‘I am pure, without transgression;
    I am clean, and there is no iniquity in me.
10 Behold, he finds occasions against me,
    he counts me as his enemy,
11 he puts my feet in the stocks
    and watches all my paths.’ ~Job 33:6-11

Elihu begins his exhortation by identifying with Job.  He reassures him that he is on his side, for his good, and looking to the God they both serve.  In this, Elihu recognizes Job as a godly man.  Unlike the other three friends with their charges of hypocrisy and falseness, Elihu honors Job’s efforts and counts them as right and just.  Elihu’s willingness to respect the good in Job disarms defenses and gives him a platform by which to admonish what Job did amiss.

Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you,
    for God is greater than man…

“Behold, God does all these things,
twice, three times, with a man,
30 to bring back his soul from the pit,
that he may be lighted with the light of life.
~Job 33:12, 29-30

Next, Elihu reminds Job 1. that he was carefully listening and 2. of what he’d said wrong.  Elihu does not assume or presume actions he has not seen.  There is no supposing of underlying deceit or sin.  Instead, Elihu goes only upon what he has heard straight from Job’s own mouth.  Elihu brings a fair and just argument against Job.  His approach proves his sincerity and care for Job.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

Elihu contends that God is greater than man.  He argues that God’s providence is always for our good regardless of whether we can understand how.  Therefore, fighting against him is self-destructive.  He assures Job that God brings pain and suffering not because he is our enemy, but for a very specific good purpose – to save and sanctify men.

Elihu exhibits infinitely more mercy and grace in just his opening statements than Job’s other three friends did in their entire conversations.

If we must exhort, comfort, or contend with our fellow men, let us learn Elihu’s wisdom.  Let us come in humility, clarity, concern, and compassion if we truly seek to help.  Let us come first agreeing about wrongness and injustice done to our peers before we examine the wrongness and injustice done by them.  Let us learn to identify with before we attempt to correct.  Let us learn to praise the noble and right deeds of others before we deal with the wrong.  Let us always deal in facts and in truth rather than assumptions and accusations.  Let us be fair, sincere, and loving when approaching to care for or correct.  Finally, let us always encourage with God’s ultimate good will towards men in all circumstances.  Doubtless our friends will be much more apt to believe God is for them in the midst of suffering if they first believe that we are.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtI1Zux49CY

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No sooner did Job finish crying out to God post-Bildad attack than he get pounced on again by an even more harsh accusatory judge.  Enter: Zophar.

Then Zophar the Naamathite answered and said:

2 “Should a multitude of words go unanswered,
    and a man full of talk be judged right?
3 Should your babble silence men,
    and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
4 For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure,
    and I am clean in God’s eyes.’
5 But oh, that God would speak
    and open his lips to you,
6 and that he would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
    For he is manifold in understanding.
Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves. ~Job 11:1-6

Zophar begins by saying, basically, “Job, quit your bellyachin’.  Stop whining lest you be punished worse.”  Although he accuses Job of endless chatter and mocking, he is actually the one speaking empty, unhelpful words and mocking Job.  Job never even said his doctrine was pure, but so what if he had?  It was!  And yes, Job said he was not guilty and defended himself when accused of hypocrisy.  Clearly, Job’s life pre-suffering was godly and faithful and that’s all Job was saying.  But he never claimed to be sinless and this guy puts words into his mouth, casting his plea for mercy and grace in the worst possible light.

Is this the way to comfort a dying man?!  Lord have mercy!

As if that weren’t enough, Zophar insists that when and if God speaks, he conveniently knows exactly what he’ll say, and, of course it will be exactly what Zophar himself would say.  Funny how that works, eh?  (Incidentally, when God does “open his mouth” it isn’t against Job, rather, it’s against Zophar and his two high-horse friends.  And this is where self-righteousness gets us folks.)

According to Zophar, God’s wisdom and understanding is as merciless as he and is waiting in heaven to come down and blast Job.  Apparently, in Zophar’s self-righteous, judgmental eyes, Job deserves every bad thing he’s getting.  In fact, he deserves much worse!

Zophar’s speech is utterly unbearable for anyone, let alone a man suffering as Job is.  Perhaps someone should examine Zophar’s life and revoke his license to speak freely.  Nevertheless, he goes on:

“Can you find out the deep things of God?
    Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
8 It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
    Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
9 Its measure is longer than the earth
    and broader than the sea.
10 If he passes through and imprisons
    and summons the court, who can turn him back?
11 For he knows worthless men;
    when he sees iniquity, will he not consider it?
12 But a stupid man will get understanding
    when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man!

13 “If you prepare your heart,
    you will stretch out your hands toward him.
14 If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away,
    and let not injustice dwell in your tents.
15 Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
    you will be secure and will not fear.
16 You will forget your misery;
    you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
17 And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
    its darkness will be like the morning.
18 And you will feel secure, because there is hope;
    you will look around and take your rest in security.
19 You will lie down, and none will make you afraid;
    many will court your favor.
20 But the eyes of the wicked will fail;
    all way of escape will be lost to them,
    and their hope is to breathe their last.” ~Job 11:7-20

Next, Zophar mixes some glorious truths of God with some assumptions and some lies.  Funny, that’s just what the devil does, too.

He claims that because God is sovereign, he surely knows who is sinning undercover and who really needs to repent.  He undoubtedly implicates Job as a mocker, worthless, evil, stupid, unjust, and unrepentant.  He arrogantly assumes Job is at fault and deserving of punishment and suffering without so much as asking Job how he’s doing.  He assures Job that if he’ll just repent, things will being to go well for him (Job 11:14-20.)

Wow.  I don’t even know how to address this kind of heartless attack on one of God’s broken children.  How often I’ve worn the crown and paraded as Queen Zophar myself!  I only pray I’m never again guilty of taking a position of careless authority over anyone or acting in this way towards another hurting brother or sister.  Lord have mercy on us when we put ourselves in the place of God as all-knowing, condescending, self-righteous assumers.  If one cannot care, listen, sympathize, or encourage the afflicted, he has no business spouting half-truths, misapplying whole ones,  and wrongfully dissecting cause and effect.  Instead, perhaps someone should ask the Zophars of the world that which he so arrogantly asked Job:

 “Can you find out the deep things of God?
    Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
8 It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
    Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? ~Job 11:7-8

The truth is, no one can know what God has chosen not to reveal and, often, human suffering is one of those things.  Sleep well, Jobs of the world.  If you have examined your life for sin and cannot find just cause for your hard lot, remember Job and know that God is likely displaying your faith and his glory by giving you far more hardship than your guilt deserves.

Don’t feel bad about it.  He did the same to his son, your savior, Jesus Christ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrCDdm2yjXY

 

 

 

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ImageDavid has been compassionate to a helpless man.  He revived him when he was as good as dead.  In turn, the man led him and his army to the enemy’s camp.  Now, they come unsuspectingly upon those who have robbed them of their goods and their families.  

 And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives.19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. 20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him, and said, “This is David’s spoil.” ~1 Samuel 30:16-20

When David sneaks up, these guys are all-out partying with their stolen goods.  I guess they felt pretty safe.  Big mistake. (more…)

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ImageSaul has just confessed his sin against David…again.  Again, because of David’s meekness, humility, and wisdom, Saul is defeated by his own wickedness and shame.  But is his confession indicative of true repentance?

Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him. ~1 Samuel 27:1-4

Clearly, David doesn’t buy it.  How can he?  This isn’t the first time Saul’s promised something to David.  Every promise Saul has made he’s reneged on – always to David’s detriment.  David didn’t believe Saul’s empty promises any longer.  That’s very naturally understandable, however, his very justified lack of faith in this mortal man whom God was allowing to continuously afflict him led David to doubt God’s word and God’s faithfulness. (more…)

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noharmPicture this: You’ve just proven your innocence beyond the shadow of a doubt towards one who repeatedly insists that you are full of guilt and malice for them.  They even weep at their own blind, hateful , and unprompted malice towards you.  But, a few short weeks or months go by and they’re at it again – accusing you falsely, pursuing you as you mind your own business, and seeking your very life.  What do you do?

Well, if you’re anything like David, you take a principle precept from medical ethics called, “primum non nocere,” meaning, “first, do no harm,” and you run you with it.

In 1 Samuel 26:1-5, we find that Saul was again searching for David, seeking his life.  David had just previously proved his obvious innocence with the cutting of Saul’s robe and Saul had just wept over his own guilt!  So much for genuine repentance!  Anyway, David was still living in the wilderness and trusting God alone to inaugurate him as king as he had promised.  Saul can’t seem to find David anywhere, but David knows exactly where Saul is.  Let’s see how David uses his God-given advantages over Saul. (more…)

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ImageDavid is in the wilderness.  His own countrymen have just betrayed him and told his whereabouts to Saul – his fiercest enemy.  What does David do?  Better yet, what does God do?

Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25 And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” 28 So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29  And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi. ~1 Samuel 23:24-29

David was told that he had been found out.  As soon as he knew how severe the force against him was, he relocated himself near a rock in the wilderness.

David wasn’t standing next to a pebble, he was hiding behind a mountain.  Saul was on one side of the mountain pursuing David, and David was on the other side running away from Saul.  What Saul found to be a frustration, David found to be a fortress.

As the enemy closes in on David, he is distracted.  It was told to Saul that another enemy – the Philistines – were raiding his land.  Funny how Saul suddenly became concerned when it was his house that was being spoiled by these evil men.  Where he failed to concern himself with Keilah, he now seriously concerns himself with…himself.  National security and the people’s protection are not on this man’s mind – self protection and security are.  Here, God used one enemy to frustrate another.

Anyway, God knows this raid is enough to send Saul packing, thereby preserving David.  God’s timing and providence never fails.  It is always perfect according to the needs of his people.

And I guess God doesn’t always use light to destroy darkness.  Sometimes God uses darkness to deter darkness.  I think of my own sin.  When the evil and injustice of the world rages against me, I am often brought to my knees over my own evil.  Sometimes God uses the sinfulness of other sinners against us to eradicate sin in us…or at the very least to distract us from the worse evil we were planning.

It often becomes very difficult to fight over the throne you’re sitting on.  Apparently, soldiers have no business fighting over thrones.  Soldiers, rather, are called to stand by the Rock and, even, wait in the wilderness sometimes.

It really isn’t all about what David did in this case.  It’s all about what God did.  God provided the rock.  God distracted the enemy.  God frustrated the evil.  God preserved David in the wilderness.  Wait.  Jesus is the Rock.  Jesus destroyed the enemy.  Jesus delivered us from evil.  Jesus preserves his people.

Don’t fight over the throne.  It doesn’t belong to you.  Stand by the Rock.  Wait in the wilderness.  You don’t have to deliver yourself.  God will deliver you.

“The wisdom of God is never at a loss for ways and means to preserve his people.” ~Matthew Henry

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