Friday, July 24, 2009

Fight Evil with Good

John R. Houk
© July 24, 2009

When Christ found me (I certainly was not looking for Him), I was an agnostic. My agnosticism was in the sense that I believed in the unexplained supernatural spiritual and in a supreme Creator; however my belief was the Creator could care less as to what happens in the physical realm.

I had a girlfriend who was a Christian (Full disclosure: the first wife). I was informed no romance in our dating was possible without Christ. So I made a deal.

The deal: I would examine the Bible to prove it was not truth for it was a bunch of words full of contradictions. If she could not refute my findings, the dating game was on. If she could refute my findings, Church bound I would be.

Honestly I did not get past the Beatitudes before Christ revealed Himself to me in a tangible way that I knew was reading the Truth of God Almighty.

So what is my point?

I was reading an article from the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) that actually provoked a recollection of the days that Salvation overtook me by the Grace and Mercy by the Redemptive act of the Son of God. The article is entitled, “Why Does God Allow His Enemies to Succeed?

The question is really an ages old question: If God is absolute Good, why does evil exist? Here I have no intention of tackling the essence of that question; however the question in the article started me to thinking about Christian conduct.

The essence of the CADC article questions the success upon success of evil via moral degradation (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, pornography etc.) and of the existence of reprehensible violence in the world (especially the violence perpetrated on Christian Believers). The article then plugs the Christian into the equation: If God allows such evil, should the Christian simply rollover to the inevitability of wickedness or should the Christian suck it up and take an active stand for God against evil.

Now here was my thought. Jesus Christ the Son of God was incarnated into human flesh in order for His human life to be unjustly terminated in so the twisted nature bequeathed by Adam would be straightened, the slate of sin erased and the Image of God through Christ planted into our human spirit redeeming humanity from the darkness prevalent in humanity and the world.

The example of Christ leading to that point was one of miracles, healings, the telling of the Good News of the significance of Salvation in Christ and non-retaliation to carnally inspired animosity. Indeed Believers in Christ are told to love their enemies and to do to others as you would have others do to you.

The point of the Good News is not to question the reason for the existence of evil in the Presence of the absolute goodness of God. Rather the point is to confront evil with Good (i.e. the Goodness of God).

Every path has a goal. The goal of humanity is to fulfill God’s purpose for humanity. Honestly I cannot attest to the very purpose God has for humanity. I can say I have read loads of books in which good Believing authors pointed toward many credible purposes God intends for His human creation. Instead of bouncing from “that sounds good to me” or “that one sound goods too,” I have settled for the full revelation of God’s purpose has yet to be revealed.

One thing is irrefutable though: God created humanity for a purpose that would eclipse the utility of other created sentient beings (e.g. angels).

The top created being before the creation of humanity appears to be an individual by the name of Lucifer. Old Lucifer was created good. For some inexplicable reason Lucifer figured he could be the top dog above his Creator. As far as I can tell this was time that evil entered existence.

Lucifer the Morning Star then became Satan the adversary. Then BOOM! God gave Satan and a third of the angels Satan convinced to be his followers the boot.

Now somewhere in time God created His first human being in His very Image and Likeness. The name Adam was assigned to him. Then God created from Adam a mate and called her name Eve. (Let’s loose the speculation of temporal time or if there were multiple Adams forming an Adamite race)

Evidently part of evil is jealousy. For Satan became jealous of any purpose Adam and future human descendants may have that would demote angelic beings (or in slew foot’s case, fallen angels).

Satan’s jealousy led to a purpose for Satan the adversary: the enslavement and/or destruction of God’s loved creation that humanity represented. You probably know the story from here. Satan tricked Adam through his love for Eve (yeah that is speculation) with the lie that Adam and Eve could become gods in like fashion as the Creator.

It is in that placing faith in Satan above God that the Image of God-nature in humanity became twisted and akin to the nature of Satan the adversary. It is the twisted nature of Satan that is passed down spiritually to all of Adam’s descendants UNLESS one accepts and believes in the Redemption and Resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

For me this explains the reason evil exists in the Presence of an absolute good God.

Could God have terminated the evil at its inception?

Absolutely! God is the Creator. God is the potter molding the clay who can sovereignly throw away corrupted clay and start anew. To toss the corrupted clay (i.e. humanity) it would be an admission of defeat to the adversary. God loses to no one.

In God’s love and miraculous power, He made a plan to fulfill His purpose for created humanity. That plan was to end the corruption then inherent in humanity with a plan for an uncorrupted human being to pay the price of Adam’s betrayal. Hence humanity has a path to overcome evil through Jesus Christ.

That plan was only partially realized at the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ the Son of God. Humanity’s inner spirit via faith has the choice to be a new creation in Christ re-imprinting the Image of God by untwisting the fallen nature with a new nature. Full Redemption is still in humanity’s future when the mind-soul and flesh are transformed totally into the glorious eternal being. This will include the Redemption of the earth. With the creation of a new earth and a new Heaven the goodness of God terminates the existence of evil in humanity’s environment.

Until that day evil will continue to worsen in the world. When the cup of evil is full, humanity’s complete Redemption will draw near and overtake our existence.

So now what am I trying to say?

I am saying in our individual sphere of influence the Character of Christ is sufficient to bring victory either in this life or the next life to come. Don’t be anxious rather trust in God even if this temporal life has the appearance of going down the tubes.

Where does faith come in?

I believe faith is a matter of stewardship. Everyone who believes in Christ is dealt a measure of faith. Disciplined stewardship of that faith enables one to do great acts for the Kingdom of God in this life. Modest or little stewardship will produce modest or little acts in the Kingdom of God.

Should a Christian feel condemned for the sense of one described as “O ye of little faith”? I say, “NO!

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:1-11 NKJV)

If you are in Christ there is no condemnation. If you are in Christ yet determine to live a life in the flesh, you will have NO peace in this life. Also focusing on a flesh-life endangers your position of being in Christ. Yep, I am one of those who believe if your life mocks God, your Salvation is in danger of disappearing. I am also saying I am not that judge who decides that status. All will make that discovery at the Last Judgment.

Now let me be clear about my thoughts on the faith-life. I am a believer in the prosperity message; however I do not believe God will honor one’s faith to acquire possessions for the sake personal pleasure unless that pleasure is something that benefits the Kingdom of God. So I am big on God giving one a blessed life of comfort according to one’s stewardship, but I am not one that includes ostentatious living that provokes a feeling of “I’m better than the next guy”. That should sound similar to the Lucifer to Satan transformation.

The primary importance of faith is not the good carnal life, rather the primary importance of faith is to seek the Kingdom of God drawing closer and closer to God. The heart-peace of God is sufficient to overcome every ill or evil that makes an attempt to enter and/or corrupt your life.

Does the peace of God mean Christians should be doormats for criminals and evil doers?

I do not think so. Check out Romans 13: 1-7:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Police and military personnel exist to prevent evil. God ordains human authority to confront human evil.

Unfortunately in this age before the return of Christ, one nation’s good may be perceived as an evil by another nation. The reality of good and evil among human nations which incorporate a national and international rule of law can only be judged by God. After all God Almighty used a foreign heathen king to punish the disobedient lifestyle of the Chosen People. The Hebrew tribes lost their kingdom to foreign invaders and went into exile. This exile among the Judah exiles honed the spiritual life of Diaspora Jews. The Diaspora Jews (1st Babylon and 2nd Roman) solidified their faith to remain a cohesive group of people for thousands of years without their homeland.

Could moral depreciation cause the downfall of America that has until recently placed their foundation in Christianity? Or will prayer by the remnant bring on a Third Great Awakening as that which occurred before nationhood and in the early 19th century.

The CADC is calling for Christians to be active spiritually and politically in America to counter the Leftist social transformation in America. If I did misinterpret the CADC article, then I am calling for Christians to become active.

Below are some Scriptures in which meditation turned on the light and begin the diminishing of the darkness (All Scriptures are in the NKJV):

Matthew 5: 3-12

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5: 43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor[g] and hate your enemy.’ 44 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,[h] 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren[i] only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors[j] do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Roman 13: 8-10

8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,”[a] “You shall not covet,”[b] and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-8a

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. …

1 Corinthian 13: 13

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Galatians 5: 16-18

16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Galatians 5: 22-26

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Ephesians 5: 1-2

1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Ephesians 6: 10-18

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

JRH 7/24/09


Why Does God Allow His Enemies to Succeed?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 18:04
Christian Anti-Defamation Commission

When you have been in spiritual warfare and the culture wars any length of time you will inevitably come to points in the battle when you ask, “what in the world is God doing?” We know that God is in control of His creation and has called us to pray and stand for him, yet some times we are tempted to think very hard thoughts against God or even want to give up.

If we affirm with the Bible that Jesus is Lord all, then why do we seem to be losing important moral battles? Hate crime laws are almost certain to be signed into law that will be used in an attempt to silence the church. Our Federal tax dollars are being spent on wicked overseas abortions and funding immoral “kill to heal” research on human embryos. Obama’s healthcare reform has a backdoor effort in it to give radical feminists and the abortion industry everything they want.

Our biblical principles are taking a beating in the culture right now. So the question remains. What is God up to? More importantly, what are we supposed to be doing as believers? Let’s look at the Bible for some help.

Pop Quiz
First of all, this struggle with God’s providence is not unique to us, even though it feels like it sometimes. The inspired prophet Jeremiah put it this way, “Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; They grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from their mind. (Jeremiah 12:1-2; NKJV)

Jeremiah was frustrated with the way God was working in Israel. Wicked people doing evil things seemed unstoppable. They even talked like they were true believers and as if they were intent on doing the Lord’s work even though they had no intention of submitting to God’s revealed will. Sound familiar?

But, Jeremiah knew that God was still at work even in the midst of setbacks. “But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, And You have tested my heart toward You.” (Jeremiah 12:3a; NKJV)

God works in mysterious ways as he administers his inscrutable providence. Jeremiah realized that even in the midst of setbacks God is at work among his people revealing their faith and character. Yes, this is a test. Will we remain steadfast, immovable and abound in the work of the Lord even when it is difficult?

The Art of War
God is always most concerned about his people and is constantly working all things together for their good and His own glory. When we read the scriptures we see some predictable historical patterns.

First, God graciously saves and delivers his people. Then there is a honeymoon filled with blessings. Then God’s people become complacent and backslide into various sins and idolatry. So God sends prophets to call his people back. The prophets are killed. So foreign enemies, drought and wicked kings etc. are sent to afflict his people. After suffering, sometimes for long periods, the people cry out to God for mercy and they repent. Then God sends a savior to rescue them. The people are blessed and the cycle starts over.

This tells us a lot about human nature and God’s providence. This pattern is most vividly on display in the book of Judges where we see a downward spiral of Israel after taking up residence in the Promised Land.

In the midst of the historical narrative recorded in Judges the Holy Spirit gives us some important insights into the reasons for this process. Why didn’t God make it easy for his people to follow him? Why didn’t He simply destroy all the surrounding pagan nations that would be a constant temptation and thorn in Israel’s side? Here’s why.

“Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. Judges 3:1-5

God left enemies for his people to overcome and in the process Israel was being tested. Would they remain faithful and live a life pleasing to God or would they be tempted to intermarry and worship foreign gods? Would they stand up and fight and learn the art of war? God wanted Israel to be able to defend itself and the way he taught them was through the attacks of the enemy. You learn by doing. Ultimately, Israel failed the test and the kingdom of God was taken away from them (Mathew 21:43) and they were dispersed.

Pneumatic Warfare
Now God is training his church in the art of spiritual warfare. It is not a physical, carnal struggle or a battle of flesh and blood. Rather it is an unseen, spiritual, theological and moral struggle for the souls and minds of men and nations.

God could have destroyed all our enemies fully and finally at the cross. We know that death, Hell and Satan were all defeated in principle on the cross and by Christ’s resurrection . Christ’s full and final victory is absolutely secure, yet for God’s own purposes there is still a spiritual warfare to engage and holy history to be made.

We do not fight for victory but from Christ’s victory. In this we as believers have the highest possible honor. We are invited to co-labor with Christ as he subdues all of his enemies under his feet.

Can’t We Just Be Positive Christians?
But what if someone does not like all this talk about war and prefers only to discuss God in terms of his love and mercy? While this is understandable, it is not an accurate representation of who God really is.

Hear God’s Word. “The Lord is a Man of war, the Lord is his name.” (Exodus 15:3) “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle.” (Psalm 24:8) “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” (Revelation 19:11) After use of familial terms, the second most common metaphor used in the New Testament for believers are military terms.

Mankind bears to some degree all of God’s image, even the glorious martial facets of his nature. Of course, sin has distorted God’s image and that is why we need God to renew his image in us through the gospel. But we are called to embrace and reflect the totality of God’s character. To deny one aspect of God’s nature is a denial of God’s unity and simplicity. It is heretical to deny any attribute of God or to juxtapose one against the other. God is not schizophrenic or inwardly conflicted, but always acts perfectly in accordance with all his entire nature. For example, God’s justice is a holy, loving, merciful expression of all his perfect being.

For our own good and His own glory God allows enemies to attack us and even apparently succeed for a season to test our faith and courage. Theoretically, we could all be glorified and enjoy the eternal joys of heaven the moment after we are saved by faith in Christ. But this life is a proving ground. Will we stand when it is hard or will we compromise and adopt the ways of the world? Will we lay up treasures in heaven or simply live for the pleasures of this world? Will we reflect God’s image as a spiritual soldier?

All of life is intended to drive us to Christ, even our greatest victories and our most crushing failures, so that in all things he has the preeminence. This world is not and never will be heaven, but it is the perfect place for God to prepare you for it. One of those necessary preparations is to develop courage and tenacity to stay in the fight and persevere to the end.

Cowards Go First
For years I have threatened to print up tee shirts that say, “Cowards go first.” Then under the words have a picture of Dante’s Inferno. Why?

It is axiomatic to “begin with the end in mind.” So what do we know about the ultimate end of this life? At the end of time when the final judgment is being meted out by our victorious King Jesus we read these words, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8; NKJV)

I never cease to be surprised by this list. It is not one that I would have created and therefore reflects my defective perspective on what is important to God. The very first kind of person mentioned that deserves eternal wrath from God’s point of view is not the murderer, the sexual deviant or even the one who is involved with satanic witchcraft, rather it is the coward.

The Greek word for “coward” here infers being timid and fainthearted. Remember Revelation was written to the Churches in Asia Minor who were suffering terribly for their faith. So Christ graciously gives them the greatest incentive to remain faithful and not to give way under persecution and apostatize.

While we are nowhere near the kind of persecution that many others have experienced for Christ, we still need the same bold, spirit-filled life of a first century martyr. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would make us witnesses for him. The Greek root for being a witness is martureo. To be a Christian is to be a faithful witness to Christ unto death. No cowards allowed.

Only courageous Christians are admitted to heaven the true land of the free and home of the brave. Hell is the eternal abode of spiritual and moral cowards. We experience a foretaste of heaven when as Christians we courageously overcome the world the flesh and the Devil. We get a foretaste of Hell when we live fearful, cowardly lives.

By Grace through faith in Christ
Of course, who can say they have always been a fearless follower of Christ? We can only have true spiritual courage, verses false, fleshly bravado, by the grace of and the power of the Holy Spirit. We must repent of carnal thinking and worldly perceptions and ask God to open our eyes to the glory of His Son sitting at his right hand. By fixing our eyes on Jesus, not our enemies or circumstances, we will be enabled to run our race and fight the good fight of faith.

May God grant us the fullness of the Holy Spirit to boldly stand in our day. May he strengthen us to do his will as we faithfully make use of the means of grace in His Word and Spirit. By faith we declare with God’s help we will make no excuses and offer no apologies. We purpose to fight for Christ’s glory and kingdom, no matter what the enemies of Christ say or do. The battle belongs to the Lord, but faithfulness in the fight is our holy and blessed obligation.

Fight Evil with Good
John R. Houk
© July 24, 2009

Why Does God Allow His Enemies to Succeed?
© 2008 (sic) · Christian Anti-Defamation Commission

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