August 25, 2013 The CERTAINTY of Faith (Part 2 of Paul’s teaching about Spiritual Warfare)

The CERTAINTY of Faith

(Part 2 of Paul’s teaching about Spiritual Warfare)

It has been said that the only things certain in this life are death and taxes.  The Apostle Paul added that faith in God and His promises assures the certainty of their results.  It is the definition of ‘grace’ that says grace is God’s promise and His willingness to use His mighty power to bring it to reality for you.  You do not earn it, nor do you deserve it.  Grace is God’s gift to His child.  Fundamental to this is that God cannot lie (Numbers 23.19; Titus 1.2; Hebrews 6.18).  This certainty is crucial to understanding and using the ‘armor of God’ described in Ephesians 6.10-18.  If your belief aligns with Hebrews 11.6 (2 Chronicles 16.9a), then you are included in John 1.12-13 and joint-heir with Jesus of the power that comes from such an exalted position (Romans 8.16-17).

Be strong in the power of Jesus’ might, not your own.

  • Paul starts with this summary statement in Ephesians 6.10.
  • Paul acknowledged the inadequacy of human power in 2 Corinthians 10.3-4 and 12.9-10.
  • This was because of the truth he stated in Ephesians 6.12.  Your ‘opponent’ may appear as skin and bones to you but the force directing his speech and actions is the real opponent; a spiritual force with evil intent to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ you, as Jesus said in John 10.10.  This is the opponent you are to ‘wrestle’ against before God and, thereby, build your ‘spiritual’ muscle (see Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, December 16).
  • So, what is Jesus’ ‘might’ (Ephesians 6.10) that you need (and which must be available to you or Paul would not have written that it is)?  Jesus’ ‘might’ came from two sources, as revealed in John 5.19-20 and 12.49-50.  What are they, and how are they important to you being strong in the Lord?  How does this help to explain the roles and goals of Ephesians 4.11-13?  Does this mean that you are to do what Jesus did and say what He said?  Discuss this with the Lord Himself.  He will remind you of John 17.18 and 1 John 3.8b.
  • Just how ‘mature’ are you when compared to Jesus as the epitome of maturity?  If Jesus is a perfect 10, what number describes your relative maturity?  Do you want to improve?  If so, repeat John 5.19-20 and 12.49-50!  Now, study Jesus’ words in Mark 4.24-25 and King David’s in Psalm 101.3-4 (illustrated in Job 31.1 and Matthew 5.28).  Note the encouragement of Colossians 2.6-10 and Jude 1.20a.

God’s armor makes you able to resist the schemes of the evil one (Ephesians 6.11).

  • The Greek word for ‘wiles’ means schemes.  ‘Schemes’ even sounds evil.  They are satan’s clever and crafty methods of cunning and deceit to entice you into his trap of evil.  They are his direct and frontal assaults against your integrity and abilities.  Jeremiah 44 is a good illustration, especially verses 17-19.  “’Schemes’ is all-inclusive, encompassing every sin, immoral practice, false theology, false religion, and worldly enticement” (John MacArthur’s notes to this verse).  Their goal is to steal from you, to kill you, and to destroy your mind, body and influence in your various contexts (John 10.10).  Jesus said, ‘sufficient for the day is the evil thereof’ (Matthew 6.34b).  Observe Paul’s caution in 2 Corinthians 2.11.  Has your life in the moral relativism of this world made you apathetic, even ‘ignorant of [satan’s] devices’?  How do you know?
  • Paul wrote in Ephesians 6.11 and 13 that God’s armor makes you ‘able’ to ‘stand against’ and to ‘withstand’ (‘resist’ is the better word because it is preemptive of an assault as well as overcoming an assault; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible; g0436) every day of satan’s nefarious schemes.  Remember that you are using God’s armor, not your own!  ‘God’s armor’ makes you able!  The contrast is illustrated in the story of David and Goliath, in 1 Samuel 17, especially verses 38-40 and 45-47.  You know the rest of the story.  What does the second half of verse 46 say was the source of David’s victory?  Now does this story illustrate Jesus’ words in John 16.24?  Note the similar confidence of David and Jesus to Paul’s ‘you will be able’!  See 2 Corinthians 2.14 also.
  • A future study will discuss the pieces of God’s armor, but this study concludes with a discussion of the ‘shield of faith’, which is to be taken ‘above all’, as Paul states in Ephesians 6.16.

The shield of faith will quench every fiery dart of satan!

  • ‘The Greek word [for shield] usually refers to the large shield (2.5 x 4.5 feet) that protected the entire body.’ (MacArthur’s note to Ephesians 6.16) The soldier could maneuver it by hand in the direction of the enemy’s assault.  He kept it polished and in good condition.  The shield was the soldier’s defensive weapon.
  • Just so, you maneuver the shield of faith to the direction of satan’s assault – against your mind, your body, your property, your employment, your relationships, etc.  The shield quenches (puts out/stops) ‘all the fiery darts of the wicked one’. All!
  • How do you ‘polish’ your shield of faith?  Paul’s wax was Romans 10.17.  Develop the habit of using it daily to stay strong!  Remember Jesus’ words in Mark 4.24-25.
  • The Christian’s faith is God’s grace (Ephesians 2.8-10), as defined in the introduction.  The ‘light of your understanding’ increases like the light of day (Proverbs 4.18, illustrated in Acts 17.11) as you sit and saturate in the Word.
  • This is what Paul means in Romans 1.16-17.  The Good News of Jesus IS the power of God to save you daily (John 16.24)!  In this Gospel, the grace of God is revealed from ‘faith to faith’.  Paul describes this term in Romans 5.1-5, somewhat like the progression in 2 Peter 1.5-7.  Note Paul’s confidence in overcoming ‘tribulation’. Resisting satan’s assaults builds ‘spiritual muscle’ to overcome different attacks.
  • Remember Apostle John’s words in Revelation 12.11 and 1 John 5.3-5.  The power of God is unleashed when you resist satan by faith, as 1 John 4.4 reminds.  The picture is like Jesus described similarly in Matthew 10.19-20.  God gives you peace, for He does your work through and for you; see Isaiah 26.12.
  • This is what Paul meant by concluding Romans 1.17 with a quote from God recorded in Habakkuk 2.4: ‘the just shall live by his faith.’  The ‘just’ are Christians…you!  One Greek word defined for salvation (that is, Sozo) includes daily rescue, deliverance, healing, prosperity, and completeness AND eternal life with Christ.  Jesus illustrated this in Matthew 19.29.  Daily rescue and deliverance is from satan’s schemes to defraud you of wisdom, wealth, and health (Jeremiah 9.23-24; i.e., bragging about your things versus about your knowledge and understanding of God).  This is living by faith!
  • Again, how do you measure against Jesus as the Standard, the perfect 10?  How often do you listen to the Holy Spirit when He warns you of satan’s scheme by comparing what you hear or see against God’s word of promise?  Do you, then, resist the devil every time, knowing he and/or his demons (Ephesians 6.12) will flee (James 4.7) or how often do you give in to the pleasure or pain of his attack?
  • How can you increase your ‘spiritual muscle’ to fight spiritual warfare?  By going to the gym of God’s word and searching for the promises that apply to your circumstance, growing your faith by rereading the promise until sufficient faith comes to resist the evil one before or during the attack!  You will see ‘spiritual muscle’ growing when satan’s attacks take less and less time to ‘quench’.  Your efforts will be rewarded!

Paul did not use the definite word ‘able’ casually.  He knew the reality of faith in God and His word.  You must grow a like faith for the daily struggles against moral relativism and satan’s other schemes.  You just must!!!

Praise God!!!  Copyright (c) by Maurice L. Painter, 2013.

August 11, 2013 Part 1 of Instruction on Fighting Spiritual Warfare

Part 1 of Instruction on Fighting Spiritual Warfare

In Ephesians Chapter 6 and Verses 10-20, the Apostle Paul gives perspectives about and instruction for fighting Spiritual Warfare.  You need this because you are engaged in such warfare every day, whether you understand it or believe it; the Bible says so and gives illustrations.

How did Paul come to understand this?

Why does he instruct us?

Why don’t we hear more teachings about Spiritual Warfare?

Paul heard and understood what Jesus said.

  • In John 16.7-13, Jesus summarized the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would ‘convict’ the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  ‘Convict’ means to find guilty.

  • The world is guilty of sin because people do not believe that Jesus is God’s appointed Savior to release them from satan’s deceptions (John 14.6).

Peter preached about this at Pentecost in Acts 2.22-24.

Note Peter’s connection of Jesus to Exodus 34.10.

Paul illustrated and expanded on verses 23-24 in his sermon on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece; see Acts 17.22-32.

What did Paul say was the importance of Jesus’ resurrection?

What did this confirm?

  • The world is guilty of righteousness because Christians do not live righteously. Isaiah 33.14-16 gives a good description of living righteously.

The ‘devouring fire’ and ‘everlasting burnings’ are reflections of the Trinity.

What is ‘the gain of oppressions’, ‘bribes’, ‘bloodshed’, and ‘evil’ as seen in your world?  These are contrary to righteousness.

Similarly, Paul wrote about this in Galatians 5.16-26.

  • Lastly, Jesus said the world is guilty of judgment ‘because the ruler of this world is judged’.  What did this mean in Jesus’ day and, again, today?

Jesus described this to the Apostles in Luke 10.18, which is explained by Revelation 12.7-9.

Paul discussed satan in 2 Corinthians 4.3-4 and reflected on Jesus’ words to him about satan in Acts 26.17-18.

God called satan’s actions ‘weakening the peoples’ in Isaiah 14.12-15; note his pride from past success giving a false confidence about his desired, but impossible, future.

How does he ‘weaken’ the people?

Satan is the cause of all of your problems.

  • You can see this in the different terms in Scripture by which he is identified, each with a different meaning.
  • Lucifer: Easton Dictionary of the Bible defines Lucifer as ‘brilliant star’ as used in Isaiah 14.12 to denote his glory before his expulsion from Heaven.
  • Satan: defined as ‘the adversary’, when used as a proper name.

2 Chronicles 21 tells the story of David listening to satan and incurring God’s wrath on innocent people.

Listening to satan produces collateral harm.

In addition to adversary, satan is defined as ‘accuser‘, as in Zechariah 3.1-2.

Notice the words used to rebuke satan by the angel of the Lord. How do these compare with Jesus’ words in Mark 9.25?

  • Devil: diabolos in the Greek, defined as ‘a slanderer, the arch-enemy of man’s spiritual interest’.

He was the ‘accuser of the brethren…day and night’ in Revelation 12.10 before he was expelled from Heaven.

  • Easton adds to the definition of satan other names given to satan in the Bible, as follows: “He is also called ‘the dragon’, ‘the old serpent’ (Revelation 12.9; 20.2); ‘the prince of this world’ (John 12.31; 14.30); ‘the prince of the power of the air’ (Ephesians 2.2); ‘the god of this world’ (2 Corinthians 4.4); ‘the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience’ (Ephesians 2.2).

The distinct personality of Satan and his activity among men are thus obviously recognized.  He tempted our Lord in the wilderness (Matthew 4.1-11).

He is ‘Beelzebub, the prince of the devils’ (Matthew 12.24).

He is ‘the constant enemy of God, of Christ, of the divine kingdom, of the followers of Christ, and of all truth; full of falsehood and all malice, and exciting and seducing to evil in every possible way.’

His power is very great in the world.  He is a ‘roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour’ (1 Peter 5.8).

Men are said to be ‘taken captive by him’ (2 Timothy 2.26).

Christians are warned against his ‘devices’ (2 Corinthians 2.11), and called on to ‘resist’ him (James 4.7).

Christ redeems his people from ‘him that had the power of death, that is, the devil’ (Hebrews 2.14).

Satan has the ‘power of death’, not as lord, but simply as executioner.”

As ‘executioner’, look at how he abused Job because of Job 3.25.

Paul’s best statement of our condition.

  • In Ephesians 6.12, Paul grouped satan and his forces as ‘principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, spiritual wickedness in [the metaphysical world].’
  • He wrote that we ‘wrestle’ against them…to build spiritual muscle; see 1 Corinthians 9.25-27 and Jude 1.20-21.

Remember your superior position in Christ from Ephesians 1.21-23 (Psalm 110.1-2).

  • Jesus taught that your struggles are caused by satan.  For example, see what He said caused the difficulty of the woman in Luke 13.10-17.

Notice the descriptions of Jesus’ work in Matthew 4.23-24 and Acts 10.38.

  • Are you tired enough of the present pain to learn how to free yourself from satan’s abuse?  You will find answers in the next study from Ephesians 6.10-20.

Praise God!!! 

In addition to the question interspersed in this study, contemplate and answer the following:

  1. Does God cause sickness and disease and the other bad things that happen to you and other people?  If you answer ‘yes’, can you illustrate this from Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels?  If you answer ‘no’, how do you explain why bad things happen to good people…even people of ‘faith’?
  2. Did God give satan permission to abuse Job in the first chapters of Job?  If so, why would He? 
  3. How is it different that God used Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to force captivity on Israel in Jeremiah’s ministry?  (Consider Jeremiah 7.23-24.)
  4. What questions do you have that have not been asked?

Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2013.

August 4, 2013 Led by the Spirit of God

Led by the Spirit of God

In Romans 8.14, the Apostle Paul gives a defining characteristic of true Christians.  It compels a deeper look within and a measuring of activities that confirm or deny the characteristic personally.  How do you compare?  About five years after writing Romans in 55 AD, Paul brought this ‘walk’ up again in his doctrinal treatise, Ephesians, and explained it.  In Ephesians 1.15-23, he gives the protocol he must have followed and which explained his simple characteristic in Romans.

 Reduced to a simple statement

  • Paraphrased, Paul prays ‘that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in Jesus’ knowledge so you may know the hope to which He has called you, the inheritance He has given you, and the power which He uses daily on your behalf.’
  1. Paul wrote that Jesus’ knowledge includes your life.  Thus, you should want to grow into His knowledge; Ephesians 4.13.  Jesus knows God’s plan for you (Jeremiah 29.11), and the sufficient resources already allocated to complete your plan, and the power you need for success!  All of the first fourteen verses of Ephesians chapter one are included in Jesus’ knowledge.
  • In John 14.26, Jesus said that one job of the Holy Spirit, Whom He would send as He arrived in Heaven, would be to reveal this knowledge to you…when you would ask (Jeremiah 29.12-13).  But, you have to ask!  Have you asked lately?  Could that be a source of your problems?  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7.7-8.
  • The Holy Spirit IS THE Spirit of wisdom and revelation.  He is the Spirit that rested upon Jesus, according to Isaiah 11.2, 61.1-3, and John 1.29-34.
  • The Holy Spirit ‘enlightens the eyes of your understanding’ (i.e., your mind/heart).  Paul explained this somewhat in Hebrews 6.4-5.  This was contrasted by Jesus with the condition of lost people in Acts 26.18.  Even you can become complacent like Jesus described in Revelation 3.17-18.  Do you need some salve for your eyes?
  • Jesus described being led by the Spirit of God in John 16.7-15.  Notice that He ‘convicts’ people of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  Paul said in Ephesians 6.17 that the Holy Spirit’s ‘sword’ is the Bible!  In Hebrews 4.12-13, Paul told about this sword convicting in your life.  Incisive, isn’t He?
  • Jesus said you would receive ‘power’ when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, in Acts 1.8.  Remember that Paul wrote in Ephesians 1.13-14 that the Holy Spirit became your ‘guarantee’ of salvation when you received Jesus as Savior.  He is upon you now; John 14.16-17!

How can you be better led by the Holy Spirit?

Praise God!!!  Copyright © Maurice L. Painter, 2013.