The Enemy’s Tactics

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV

We are at war. Yet, we have to remember that our fight is not with other people. Our enemy is much less obvious. Satan has been warring against mankind since the beginning. He wanted to be God and his pride got him cast from heaven. His goal since then has been to take as many people with him to hell as possible. He loves destruction–destruction of the truth, destruction of God’s beloved creation, destruction of God’s church, destruction of God’s people.

He loves evil and he hates anything of God. He has two battle fronts: first, he fights sinners. He works to keep them from coming to Christ and, second, he fights believers who have put their faith in Christ.

He will do anything possible to keep people from accepting the truth and putting their faith in Christ. He will lie to them and tell them the Bible is fantasy, that believers are weak, that God doesn’t exist and if He does exist, then He hates us. He is constantly in every possible way trying to turn us against God because if we are against God then we are for him. There are only two choices–no one is neutral in this war.

If he cannot keep us from accepting Christ, he will plague us with lies, unbelief, pride in ourselves and our sin, hatred, dissension, fear, doubt, anger, and every other sin he can squeeze into our lives. Satan is working overtime to destroy those of us who have faith in God, His Son, and His Word. He does this individually and he does this through the church.

I have known many people who have shunned the church. Some were unbelievers who rejected God, His standards, and His people outright. Some were Christians who were hurt by things that went on in the church. Both are doing exactly what Satan wants them to do.

Satan destroys the church through dilution of the gospel via vain discussion and and shifting the focus of the church to entertainment.

Why is there trouble in the church where God’s people are supposed to be living out His Word? Because we have an enemy who is actively working to destroy us. What better way for him to get us (or sinners observing us) to reject God and/or to hinder our spiritual growth than get us wrapped up entertainment and the pride of our life, our jobs, our family, our goals, our desires and our fights with each other?

Have you noticed that people fight over petty, vain discussions (1 Timothy 1:6) and it’s accepted, but as soon as someone stands up for the truth, for God’s Word and even quotes Jesus’ own words–that person is labeled as a trouble maker and persecution ensues (Think Paul)? This makes perfect sense. It has been happening since God sent His prophets, His Son, His apostles, and it happens today.

Anything to distract us from what God wants us to do or to even get us to reject God– Satan will do it and we go right along with it and play right into his hands like puppets.

The church has become more interested in entertaining people to bring in the numbers than discipling its members. I see dress up days, mardi gras celebration, and churches being flooded with nonsense while lacking strong biblical teaching and we are too busy to go home and study the Bible, so we just accept what fed to us by people who are too busy to study the Bible because they are planning parties instead of worship services. It is heartbreaking that God’s Word is drowning in the sea of entertainment (“amusement or diversion provided by performers” Merrian-Webster).

When will we start seeing through our spiritual eyes? When will we look at the end and understand that this life is temporary? When we will lay ourselves before Christ and stop prioritizing our entertainment or our opinions and put Christ first? When will we cry to God to help us out of the ditch and then fight to enter in to God’s rest (Hebrews 4:11)?

If the church wants to see sinners saved, see the blind eyes opened and experience the peace of God through the trials of life, then it must stop being a victim to Satan’s tactics—saying all the right things while hiding behind what John calls the lusts of the flesh (1 John 2:16) and become a living sacrifice to God.

Only when we die to ourselves will we truly live and make a difference for His eternal kingdom. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ” Philippians 1:21 ESV

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV

Our Fathers in the Faith

We have a tendency to focus our Bible studies on our fathers in the faith—Moses, Abraham, David, etc. We look to them as role models, as examples of how to live and how not to live. We look to them to learn how to relate to God, how to walk in faith and this is good—the scripture says they were written for our examples (1 Corinthians 10:11)….yet, a majority of our focus and study should be our Lord—His life, His Words, and we should be modeling ourselves after Him—He should be living through us and we should be practicing His instructions—the fruit of which should be evident in our lives. (John 15:8)

Our relationship with God will not be exactly like our Old Testament Fathers in the Faith. Here is what we need to take away from their lives: We should walk in the faith in which they walked and put God, His Word, and His opinion above everything and everyone in our lives including ourselves. He should be our sole focus and His purpose our sole purpose.

The great news is that through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have more power to walk in that faith than our spiritual ancestors did.

{Hebrews 13:5}

{Matthew 28:20}

Exposing Darkness

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 ESV

When I began studying the Bible in depth, I wanted to know exactly what the scriptures were teaching—in context and in the original language. I have spent innumerable hours over the last couple years and I have gone through the entire Bible and very heavily—multiple times—the New Testament. 

And after being a good little lifelong Bible reader—always in church 2-3 times a week–thinking I knew what the scriptures taught, I was stunned what I learned when I actually began to study it prayerfully.

What is emphasized heavily in scripture, is not emphasized in the church. To my recollection—I have never heard a sermon on, nor have I heard mentioned or taught—warnings against false doctrines and those who teach them. I may have sat through a sermon at some point, but at a minimum, it has barely been discussed-not enough to have ever had any impact on me at all. Many other things have been emphasized and are still focused on very heavily, but no one talks about the scriptures’ warnings of false doctrine and false teachers. When compared with what the Bible teaches, much of what is taught is unscriptural and out of context.

It’s frightening and tragic that the perversion of the gospel that Paul cursed is here and our churches are drowning in it. And with social media and its ubiquitous video clips of popular preachers tickling our ears going viral, false doctrine is spreading like wildfire and we are not even addressing it.

As I worked through my study, I started seeing these repeated warnings about false teachers and their teachings. But it really became apparent as I prepped to teach my Bible Study classes. As I went over and over, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, literal versions in English and Greek, I began realizing how often this was repeated. So—I started digging–looking to see if others had noticed this, too. And they have! There are others that have studied this in depth. In 2013, Steven J. Cole wrote, that according to a seminary study, within the New Testament “warning against false doctrine is emphasized more than any other thing, even more than love, unity, and experience.” Peter and Paul repeatedly warned about it and Jude’s entire book is about false teaching infiltrating the church. And God even warned in the Old Testament that prophets were spreading lies and tales about false visions. (Jeremiah 23:16 & Ezekiel 13:9)

Why do we—as born again, Bible believing people who refer to ourselves as followers and disciples of Christ—not emphasize in our teaching and in our study what is the, or at the least one of the, most heavily emphasized subjects in the New Testament? Why are we not studying the entire Word of God in context? Why are we not learning everything God has given us to know? 

Paul said that after Christ came that the mystery was revealed—that a full understanding of what God wants us to know is available through the scripture. So, why are we not studying it? Why are we not emphasizing it? 

We should be heeding all the instructions in the scripture and studying the Bible feverishly. We should stop relying on only what people tell us, stop assuming everything that has a scripture attached is truth, stop falling for everything we see and hear on the internet and find out for ourselves what the true gospel is and with everything in us, we should hold to it. And as we are instructed by the Bible and the example set by the apostles Peter, Paul, Jude, John, and our own savior, Jesus Christ, we should be standing up against false doctrine and teachers with the same zeal they did by exposing the darkness and proclaiming the truth vigorously. (Ephesians 5:11 & Titus 1:11)

God has no favorites (Romans 2:11)—He will show you and teach you all that is in His written Word—if you want to know. So, I challenge you, as I continue to do as well, to research and study this on your own–study in great detail, pray, learn the true, whole, complete, full gospel of Jesus Christ and stand firm in it no matter the consequence. Because someday every single one of us will stand before our loving, patient, merciful, but eternally just God who wishes that all come to repentance and salvation (1 Timothy 2:4) and we will be without excuse (Romans 1:19). The results of our choice will be for eternity.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” 2 Timothy 4:2 ESV

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV

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Perilous Times—Strengthen Your Roots

Christ urged us to beware of those coming falsely in His name and Paul repeatedly fought the infiltration of false doctrine in the church. He warned about it over and over in multiple letters he wrote.

In his book of Colossians, he instructed all believers that we should walk in Christ and grow in His teachings to prevent us from falling prey to wrong doctrine, human philosophy, and manmade, worldly traditions.

These are perilous times—I strongly encourage you to research and study the scriptures regarding this.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

Colossians‬ ‭2:6-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Holy Spirit

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John‬ ‭14:26‬ ‭RSV‬‬

As we are made in His image with a body, soul, and spirit, God is 3 persons in 1—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God the Father is the thoughts, the ideas.

Jesus the Son is the Word.

The Holy Spirit is the one who acts.

We talk often of God the Father and Jesus the Son, but let us not forget the third person of the Trinity—The Holy Spirit. He is just as important. He is our teacher. He helps us to understand the scripture and it is through His power that we can have Godly peace and overcome our flesh, life’s trials, & attacks of the enemy.

“You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.” Nehemiah‬ ‭9:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A Vain Resistance

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Acts‬ ‭9:5-6‬ KJV

When Jesus stopped Paul as he was on the road to Damascus, He told him it was hard for him to kick against the pricks. “Pricks” in the Greek is “kentron” also meaning “goad”’as in an iron prod used on cattle.

Paul’s Damascus Road experience was not the first time that God had communicated with him. Paul, as evidenced in his acrimonious persecution of Christians, as well as Jesus’ words here, had been resisting the prodding of the Holy Spirit and it had been a difficult struggle for him, until he became willing to do what the Lord wanted him to do.

Paul came to have a love for Jesus that was as passionate and committed as was his love for religion and as his persecution of the church. He spent his life sacrificing earthly comforts and treasures and enduring unspeakable pain and persecution by not only strangers, but former friends and brethren. And he did it all with joy in obedience to Jesus and to see others saved through the cross of Christ.

What a lesson for us!! May we not fight the urging of the Holy Spirit to turn our hearts, minds, and lives over to Him in obedience in the way that Paul did. It will not always be the easy path, when like Paul, we suffer at the hands of strangers and even those we call friends. But Jesus promised that in the midst of trials & troubles from the enemy, and persecution from friends & family, He would never leave us and He would have a remnant of other believers with which we can comfort each other in love. He also promised something even greater—the hope of a perfect eternity with Him in His kingdom.

Let’s live for tomorrow in obedience to Him today!

Thank you Jesus!

What is the Gospel?

There are many things being done using the name of Jesus and much being presented as the gospel that is not the gospel.

So, what is the gospel of Jesus Christ?

It isn’t social justice. It isn’t self-help psychology or personal improvement. It isn’t being a good person. It isn’t earning anything.

It’s recognizing that there is no good in human nature. It is recognizing that we need a savior—someone to reconcile us to our Creator, Almighty God. It is repentance. It is, through faith, believing that Jesus Christ, as fully God and fully man, is that savior. It is believing that He took our punishment, was crucified, and after 3 days was resurrected. It is having confidence that He will come again and knowing that those born again of His Spirit will live eternally with Him.

It is knowing that anything good that comes out of me is Him.

It is denying yourself, your wants, your plans, your purpose—your life and exchanging it all for Him.

It is the best decision you will ever make and it will bring you peace of mind that cannot be explained in mere words.