All Posts in Category: (14) The Monster of Life
The thief’s purpose is to steal, destroy and kill. My purpose is to give abundant life. John 10:10
Watch one evening of local, national and international news. EVIL is on the move before our eyes!
The Manual identifies the source of evil: “Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You’re in My way!’”83 Even Wikipedia says, “Satan is … an angel (spirit being) who rebelled against God. His goal is to lead people away from (backwards) the love of God; i.e., to lead them to evil.”84
“The word ‘evil’ is the word ‘live’ spelled backwards” 85 Though possessing a reverse gear, an automobile is designed to move forward. Imagine a person, ignoring a car’s design, driving down the expressway in reverse! Destruction guaranteed!
Jesus came to give you “abundant life” … ultimate satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness! On the other hand Satan tempts you 24/7 to choose REVERSE. His “purpose is to steal, destroy and kill” every feature of Father’s design for your life.
Satan has many strategies, so “put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil” 86 However, his primary tool is deception: “Your father, the devil, is the father of lies.” 87 “The ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth …”88.
ISIS confronts people with a choice: “follow us or die!” Satan is no less atrocious with his demands! But remember; he’s a liar! Only Jesus is “the Way to the Truth about Life!” 89.
Have you become attached to him yet? “God loved people so much that He gave His only Son, so that anyone who has faith in Him will have eternal (a fulfilled) life and never really die.”90
During that time the devil came and said to Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:3-4)
It’s a perplexing phenomenon! On the one hand almost everyone (with the exception of psychopaths), whether religious or not, acknowledge the presence of evil in our world (as a matter of fact the existence of evil is one of the hallmarks of philosophical debate). On the other hand “a majority of Evangelicals believe that Satan is not a living being, but merely, at most, a symbol of evil or an impersonal force” (Teaching The Word Ministries). This disparity is problematic for many reasons, the chief of which is this fact: Jesus spoke to, taught about and did battle with Satan. Obviously, either He was a grossly deluded lunatic, or a majority of His followers in our time have been deceived.
As for me I prefer to stand with Jesus for two reasons. First, I believe Jesus was not a deluded lunatic. The Word of the Father that became flesh related to a spirit being whose name was Lucifer, Satan, the Devil. That’s a fact of Revelation! Second, as Jesus and the disciples, I too have ministered deliverance to those in bondage to the Evil One. Such experiences “closed the case” for me as they did for noted psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, whose last book is entitled Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist’s Personal Accounts of Possession, Exorcism, and Redemption.
“Until the day Dr. Peck first met the young woman called Jersey, he did not believe in the devil. In fact, as a mature, highly experienced psychiatrist, he expected that this case would resolve his ongoing effort to prove to himself, as scientifically as possible, that there were absolutely no grounds for such beliefs. Yet what he discovered could not be explained away simply as madness or by any standard clinical diagnosis. Through a series of unanticipated events, Dr. Peck found himself thrust into the role of exorcist, and his desire to treat and help Jersey led him down a path of blurred boundaries between science and religion. Once there, he came face-to-face with deeply entrenched evil and ultimately witnessed the overwhelming healing power of love.”
For those of you that may be “on the fence” about the reality of Satan I offer this video testimony of John Ramirez, an ex-Satanist. John tells the story of how he was trained to be a satanic cult (Santeria and Spiritualist) high ranking priest in New York City—casting powerful witchcraft spells and controlling entire regions. Raised in an impoverished ghetto neighborhood, he grew up despising his father for his careless disregard of his family. John learned to survive the cold, harsh streets of the South Bronx. Looking for love and validation, he eventually found it in a new “family” of witches and warlocks who groomed him to become a high priest in their occult religion. His plunge into the dark side reached a boiling point on the night he sold his soul to the devil in a diabolical, blood-soaked ritual. With renewed fervor—and the mark of the beast now cut into his right arm—he actively recruited souls into this “unholy kingdom,” haunting the bars and clubs of NYC by night to find his next victims. John’s life continued on this dark path until God intervened through a miraculous, larger-than-life dream, revealing Himself for who He really is and literally snatching John back from the grips of hell. Subsequently, John joined Times Square Church and was discipled by Bill Wilkerson.
Jesus told his followers that He MUST go to Jerusalem … to suffer many things. He also told them that He MUST be killed. Then, on the third day, He would be raised from death. Peter took Jesus away from the other followers to talk to Him alone. He began to criticize Him. “God save You from those sufferings, Lord! That will never happen to You!” Then Jesus said to Peter, “Get away from me, Satan! You are not helping Me! You don’t care about the same things God does. You care only about things that people think are important.” (Matthew 16:21-23)
While reviewing all those hideous tactics, it occurred to me that deception is often preceded by distraction. Distraction comes from Latin dis-, “apart,” and trahere, “drag.” So, distraction is when you’re dragged away from something that requires your full attention. Whereas humans are equipped to multitask many activities, driving is not one of them. It requires undivided attention. Accident statistics confirm this. Distracted driving is dangerous and can be destructive! So, the number of states banning cell phone use while driving is increasing yearly.
Read the Gospel passage above again. Jesus informed His disciples that He MUST go to Jerusalem to be killed. The word “must” is the strongest expression of necessity in the Greek language—something like a military order. Jesus was sent by the Father to die. His life was laser-like in this purpose! Peter, however, would not hear of such nonsense. “That will never happen to You!” Jesus’ reply is rather caustic: “Get away from me, Satan!” Imagine! Peter had become Satan’s tool of distraction for Jesus! Just as in the wilderness temptations the Monster was attempting to distract Jesus from the will of the Father for His life.
In following Jesus, distractions will come in many forms which may or may not be evil. In His first temptation Satan used bread as a distraction. Jesus was hungry. Bread would have provided nourishment. However, Satan’s offer was merely a distraction from Jesus’ calling as the Son of Man. Again, the Pharisees were religious to the core. Yet, their religion distracted them from Jesus.
The author of Hebrews nails the point: “Do you see what this means? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, Who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—He could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. So, when you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility He plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, said: “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me will live, even though they die; and those who live and believe in Me will never die. (John 11:25-26)
Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, were close friends of Jesus. “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was for two more days.” By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had died. Martha met Jesus with these words: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” The above words are Jesus’ response.
How shall we understand these words about life and death that seem self-contradictory? The Passion of the Christ, a 2004 epic drama, is the highest grossing R-rated film in America history. In his review, movie critic Roger Ebert wrote, “It is clear that Mel Gibson wanted to make graphic the price that Jesus paid (as Christians believe) when He died for our sins.” Obviously, the price was physical. Physically, death is the beginning of the end: “From dust you have come and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). It involves the termination of the physical. The vital signs (BODY temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate and blood pressure) “go south”!
However, the physical, though most graphic, is not most fundamental. Listen to Jesus’ words: “At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?’” The core of death is spiritual—spiritual separation from God. It is HELL! Of this the Apostles’ Creed speaks: “Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended to hell.”
Alzheimer’s is a horrifying disease! Debra Dean captures the distressing experience: “She is leaving him, not all at once, which would be painful enough, but in a wrenching succession of separations. One moment she is here, and then she is gone again, and each journey takes her a little farther from his reach.” Death is spiritual Alzheimer’s—separation of the human spirit from the Creator.
Now, Jesus’ words about life and death are crystal clear!
Here’s the most important words: “Those who believe in Me will live.” “During the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965, Ed White became the first American to conduct a spacewalk. He floated outside the capsule attached by an umbilical cord tether providing oxygen and communications from the spacecraft” (NASA). “Jesus said to the fishermen, ‘Come, follow ME!’” (Matthew 4:19). Believing is nothing other than attaching to Jesus, The Life, by the tether of faith. George Müller, a man of great faith, cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. He once said, “I long for a warm personal attachment to Him.”
“People tethered to God by faith can let themselves go because they know they will get themselves back” (Cornelius Plantings). Are you tethered to Jesus? It’s a life and death matter!
They sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the God. (Genesis 3:7-8)
“Self-improvement represents a $10 billion per year industry in the U.S. alone. The New Statesman’s Barbara Gunnell forecasts a secure future for positive psychology, noting that ‘never has an age been so certain that it deserves not just freedom from distress, but positive well-being’” (Matthew Gilbert, in Self-Help Books and The Promise of Change).
Satan’s success produced dis-ease in humankind. A primary symptom of the ailment is delusion—“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands” (Martin Luther). This belief is lifted from the Monster’s playbook: “How you’ve fallen O morning star, son of the dawn! Remember how you thought: ‘I will make myself like the Most High’”? (Isaiah 14:14)
Genesis 3 reveals SELF-HELP to be the default setting of dis-eased humanity! After disconnecting from their Creator, Adam and Eve immediately attempt to heal their dis-ease. The therapy is covering and hiding: “Many of us strive to ‘fix our sin.’ We try to hide it and pretend like it isn’t there. But this only leads to more hiding, pretending and despair” (Bill Thrall, in TrueFaced). This is the delusion: the belief that hiding is an adequate remedy for dis-ease—that hiding can produce healing! Charles Spurgeon said, “The greatest enemy to human souls is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation.”
“The ancient Greeks loved their theater. But the immensity of their amphitheaters made it impossible for many to see the actors’ faces. So, some director came up with the idea of having the actors deliver their lines from behind giant masks. The mask was always a caricature—an overdone, generalized, or idealized portrayal of the character. The actors played their roles behind a façade. The performers were called ‘hypocrites’ (literally ‘one who wears a mask’) rather than actors. We are all performers, and like the actors in ancient Greece, we don’t show our true faces. Because of sin, we’ve lost confidence that we can please the audience, so we feel compelled to hide and put on a mask. We have dozens of masks in our wardrobes!” (Thrall)
A simple illustration reveals the preposterous nature of our self-help therapy. In Hospice, morphine is often administered to terminally ill patients experiencing excruciating pain. Morphine acts directly on the central nervous system to decrease the feeling of pain. Notice: Morphine does nothing to address the source of the pain; rather, it merely hides the pain from the brain. So-called “pain killers” are a delusion!
“Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet” (Luke 24:40). “We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not, ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our wounded-ness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers” (Henri Nouwen).