Be Strong in the Lord

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NKJV)
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, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

This week our topic has been walking in favor from a position of strength. We first looked at the Hebrew women in the book of Exodus who asked their neighbors for treasure. They neither threatened nor intimidated them but both the Egyptians and the Israelites knew that the Israelites were in a position of strength. Next we looked at the position of strength the church occupies. We have the great commission of Jesus in Matthew 28 and we occupy the high ground of the spirit according to Ephesians 1.

Today’s scripture is an admonition from Paul to walk in the strength Jesus has provided for us. Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord. There are a number of things about these three verses that can help us operate from a position of strength. The first point I want to make is actually from verse 13. The nature of our real enemy makes it certain that we can walk in a position of strength.

Paul lets us know that we are not fighting flesh and blood. It is hard to remember this when it seems that flesh and blood people are the ones against us. It may be your boss, a coworker or even a spouse who seems to be your problem. We must remember that they are not our enemy. That does not mean that people are not responsible for their actions. They certainly are. People make choices and we need to trust God to deal with them. We may have to speak to them as well but our real enemy is not flesh and blood. Paul tells us our real enemies are the devil and those evil spirits that work with him to destroy the plan and people of God.

At first this could seem frightening. There is no reason to be frightened if we remember our lesson from Ephesians 1. We are seated far above these same spirits.

Ephesians 1:20-21 (NKJV) 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

The devil and his army are very cunning and powerful foes. However, we are stronger than they are. Any believer has the authority to defeat them. This is not true because of our own ability but based on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We have the position of strength. Jesus defeated the entities mentioned in Ephesians 6:12 and we walk in that victory.

As Paul begins verse ten he uses the word “finally.” Finally implies that what he is saying now is in light of all that he said to them to this point in the letter. Ephesians is one of the most powerful books in the New Testament. Yesterday we looked at chapter one and saw the position of the church. In Chapter two, we see that the church is not without God in the world. In chapter three, Paul tells us that through the church the fullness of God can be manifested.

In chapter four, we learn of the unity of the spirit and the five-fold ministry. In chapter five, we look at Godly relationships and marriage. In the beginning of chapter six, we learn about parent child relationships. That brings to the “finally” of chapter six. Though this does not even scratch the surface of revelation in Ephesians, you get the idea. It is in light of all of the revelation in Paul’s letter that he can say be strong in the Lord.

The next thing he says is “brethren.” Paul wants us to know that the ability to be strong is not relegated to special people or particular positions in the church. The strength Paul is speaking of is available to all believers. There is no difference between the ministry and the laity. You can be just as strong in the Lord as I can.

The Greek word for strong used here is significant. It means to make strong or strengthen. Paul is not telling us to “grow up and quit being weak.” He is saying that the Lord wants to give us something. The Lord himself will strengthen us if we trust him. It is not up to us to get stronger, it is up to us to receive and believe the strength that comes from the Lord.

This leads us to the next thought; we should be strong in the Lord. When the Hebrew women went to the Egyptian women and asked for their treasure, what was the source of their strength? It was not in their ability. Their strength was in the covenant they had with the Lord. We have a new and better covenant with the Lord. When Paul says to be strong, he is saying that we must stand in the strength of that covenant. If we are thinking in terms of our own spirituality or strength, we will fail. However, when we realize that the devil understands covenant and knows that we have a powerful covenant with Jesus, we can approach our enemy knowing that we are in a position of strength.

The last thing Paul wants us to know is that we can be strong in the “power of his might.” These two words are significant. Power here means dominion. Might, in this context, means ability. We are to be strong in the dominion that comes from the ability of God himself. What are the limits of God’s dominion and ability? I submit to you that there are no limits to them at all.

Look around you today. What kind of opposition are you facing? What are the challenges in your life? I encourage you with the apostle Paul to be strong in the Lord. You are not dealing with flesh and blood. Your enemy is an ancient one who still remembers the defeat he suffered at the hands of Jesus. You stand against him in the same strength that defeated him. He knows that. You must know it as well. When you are convinced of it you will be able to agree with Paul in Romans chapter 8.

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:37 (NKJV) 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

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The Source of our Strength

Ephesians 1:19-23 (NKJV) 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Yesterday we looked at one of the conditions that led to the favor shown by the Egyptian women on the Israelite women. What we found yesterday is that they went to the Egyptians from a position of strength. They did nothing to intimidate or pressure the Egyptian women. They did not have to. The Lord was judging Egypt and the Egyptian women knew it. When the Israelites came to them with their request, they also knew that their God was greater.

I believe that we must also realize that we are in a position of strength not weakness. There are many forces in the world today trying to marginalize and minimize the church. They do not mind if we worship the way we believe is right as long as we stay out of view. However, we do not have to submit to this. We are the ones who are in the stronger position.

In Egypt, the Egyptians knew that Israel was strong because God was judging their nation. Today, we may not see the same kind of judgment on the world around us yet. They may not recognize our strength. We are not under the same kind of covenant that Israel was. Their covenant was largely physical with spiritual implications. Our covenant is primary spiritual with physical implications. We may not see our strength as clearly in the natural, but we are much stronger in the spirit then Israel was in Egypt. Look at the words of Jesus.

John 18:36 (NKJV) 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”

We live in the Kingdom that Jesus brought to the earth. His kingdom authority was not of this world and neither is ours. He tells the representative of the most powerful nation of his day that if his kingdom were a worldly kingdom his servants would keep him from being delivered to the Jews in the first place. There is an interesting implication here.

Jesus tells Pilot that even the mighty Roman army would not be strong enough to stand against his kingdom and its power if it were a worldly kingdom. Pilot did not see the power Jesus was speaking of, but Jesus knew it was there. He knew that he could call on that spiritual power and it would deliver him even in this natural world. He chose not to do so because it was not the will of God. The power of the Kingdom of God was about to exert its authority in the realm of the spirit over the devil. This was more important than Jesus’ physical deliverance.

I want to point out something in the story that underscores my point about favor coming to those who know they are in a position of strength. Jesus was about to be crucified at the will of God. Nothing could stop that not even the Roman Governor. However, look at these verses.

John 18:38-39 (NKJV) 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all. 39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”

Pilot gave Jesus favor. He could not get him released because God needed him to be crucified, but Pilot tried the best he could to release him. Pilot was not intimidated in the natural by Jesus’ spiritual kingdom, but he saw something in Jesus that made him want to give him favor. Part of what he saw was Jesus’ strength under pressure. Jesus knew he was in a position of strength and that influenced Pilot. That is what I believe the church needs to be like.

What is the source of our position of strength? It is not our wealth. It is not our political power. It is not the excellence of our presentation of the gospel or polished organization of our churches and ministries. The world has far more and is far better in all these areas. Our strength flows from the same place Jesus’ strength did. It flows from the covenant relationship we have with the Lord and it works in the spirit to bring about the will of God in the natural world. This includes giving us favor when we need it.

Today’s scripture gives us a powerful picture of our position of strength. Our position in the spirit is quite different from our natural position. In the natural, we may be the “low man on the totem pole” but in the spirit, we are seated in heavenly places. We are far above all of the enemies that we really fight. This is not just a poetic statement, it is a spiritual reality and it is the position that we occupy in the spirit.

This is true because we are “in Christ Jesus.” When we were born again, we became part of the body of Christ. Every part of my body is in me. If I am in the house, my hand is in the house. If I am out in the yard, my arm is in the yard. If I travel to Africa, my brain does not stay in America. With all deference to the poetic language of the song, it is quite impossible for me to “leave my heart in San Francisco” if I am in New York. I am sure you get my point.

It is sometimes hard for us to grasp that the spirit world is the place of real strength, but it is. It is hard to grasp the fact that we can be in one position in the natural but quite another position in the spirit. However, that is exactly what we see in Jesus before Pilot. He was there and about to be crucified. However, he was also safe in the arms of his Father’s will. He would have to endure some extreme things in the natural but in the end he would be victorious. His victory would not just be for himself but for all mankind.

We are spiritually in Christ Jesus. Yesterday we pointed to Matthew 28:18-19 and the commission he gave us to preach the Gospel. Therefore, we are in a position of strength because he gave us authority. That authority was won when Jesus defeated the devil in spiritual combat. Today we see that our position of strength also flows from where we are in the spirit. We are above the enemy.

Any army knows that strength flows from the high ground. In today’s warfare, the high ground is not even on the ground. The army that wins controls the skies with airpower. The United States military is able to win any warfare fought between armies because of its overwhelming air superiority. As long as the various air components of the US military can operate, the ground forces know they are in a position of strength. They have the high ground.

We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. You cannot get much higher than that! These verses also tell us of the exceeding greatness of his power at work for us who believe. Everything Jesus did he did for the church “which is his body the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

As you go through your day remember that you are in a position of strength. You have the high ground it the spirit. You are seated with Jesus in heavenly places and you have the great power of God on your side.

Strength

Exodus 12:35-36 (NKJV) 35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

This year began with the study of favor given by God to the children of Israel during the Exodus from Egypt. The Lord instructed Moses to tell the Israelite women to go to their neighbors and ask them for articles of “silver, Gold and clothing.” God promised to give the Israelites favor with the Egyptians. In today’s verse, we see the fulfillment of this promise.

It is important to remember that they did not get these things through intimidation or threat. God gave them favor and the Egyptian women simply complied. The Israelites did not remind the Egyptians of the plagues and tell them if they did not do as they asked they would get worse. They simply asked and God moved on the Egyptian women to give them what they asked for. This is favor and that is what I believe the Lord wants to do for his church today.

Although this favor did not come via threat or intimidation, the Israelites were asking from a position of strength. We know that they made this request in response to the direction of Moses, so the request was made sometime during the plagues. We do not know at what point because today’s verse says the Israelites “had done” what Moses directed which means it was in the past. However, there can be no question that they went at some point in the process of the judgment of Egypt.

When the Israelite women went to the Egyptian woman, I do not believe they went with the attitude of slavery. They did not go begging for these things. They simply went and asked the Egyptians to give them what God commanded them to ask for. When they asked it was from a position of strength. They did not use the plagues, but the Egyptian women were completely aware of them. They knew that the God of the Israelites was powerful. There was no need for threats or intimidation. The Israelites were stronger because of their God. They knew it and the Egyptians knew it.

I do not believe the church will walk in favor if we live from a position of weakness. The world tries to intimidate the church of Jesus Christ. Media most often tends to portray Christianity as either weak or radically intolerant. Often we are portrayed as both. There is an effort among some in government to eliminate Christian influence. Under the guise of separation of church and state, we are told that anything overtly Christian has no place in the public forum. Under the guise of tolerance, we are told that any public display of faith is in bad taste because it will offend those who disagree. The only ones no one seems to worry about offending are the Christians.

These tactics are designed to keep us weak. I am not advocating political activism or some kind of Christian intimidation tactic. Just as the Israelite women did not need them, neither do we. It is not really important that the world think we are strong. That is God’s business just as it was in the day of the Exodus. What is important is that we know our strength and where it comes from. It is important that we approach the world from a position of inward strength. It is important that we do not allow the world to intimidate us into cowering in a corner. It is important that we walk in the confidence that comes from our relationship to Jesus.

I am reminded of a story from the days of Christian martyrdom in Rome. It seems that as the Christians were being burned at the stake, they sang hymns to God. The powers of the world were in the process of killing these people. As they sang, they demonstrated where the real strength was. In America today we are not facing these kinds of trials. However, we should face the trials we do endure, as well as life itself, in the same strength that they faced death.

As I was preparing this message, I felt the Lord spoke something to me. He said, “My church is asking permission when I have given them authority.” I am not talking about breaking the law or having the wrong attitude at work. I am talking about the inward sense that we do not really have the right to do what God has commissioned us to do. I am talking about that spirit of intimidation that says we have no right in the public debate. I am talking about allowing those who would portray us in an untrue light to go unchallenged because we are “just religious people.”

Matthew 28:18-19 (NKJV) 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The world may not recognize this scripture as true, but it is important that we do. When Jesus made this statement, he had just defeated Satan and all of his cohorts. This was not some theoretical boast on the part of Jesus. He had earned the right to say what he said in combat. This was not a physical combat. In truth, it could be said that he lost that fight. It is just as true that he won the spiritual battle. The real power is in the spirit.

Jesus tells the world, the church and the devil that he is now the spiritual power in the earth. Then he tells us to go into the world and preach the gospel. Were we to go intimidated? No, we were not. Were we to ask permission? No! Look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 16.

Matthew 16:18-19 (NKJV) 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus sent us in a position of strength. This strength is not in the flesh but in the spirit. Nevertheless, it is real. Jesus is the dominant spiritual force in the earth today. When we stand before the world, we must do so knowing this is true. I believe that is how the Israelite women felt when they went to the Egyptians. The Egyptians responded to the move of God to give them favor, partly because they came to them in a position of strength.

If you are a born again Christian, you are in a position of spiritual strength. Do not let the devil intimidate you. Jesus defeated him in his death, burial and resurrection. You need to remember that and remind the devil of it as often as you remind yourself. Do not be intimidated by people. When you talk to someone about the Lord, remember that you are the one in the position of strength. If you are right and they are wrong, you are bound for eternity in heaven and they are bound for the opposite. Does their ridicule really matter?

What are you facing today? You face it from a position of strength. You are a child of God and all of heaven is behind you. You do not need to threaten or try to intimidate. Those with real strength do not need to do that. You do need to rise up in faith, walk with your head held high and be proud that you are a Christian and serve the Living God.

Abundant Life

John 10:7-11 (NKJV) 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

We have been looking at the two forces that produce either good or evil in the lives of every person. The bible calls these two forces life and death. These natures or forces flow from the person of either God or the devil. Everything that is good in the human condition flows from God. The Garden of Eden is the example of what life without the influence of death would be like.

The fall of man caused the introduction of death into the perfect enjoinment created by God for man. When man sinned he opened the door to the nature of another spiritual being named Satan. The corrupted nature of Satan came into the spirit of man through sin and spread corruption to the whole creation. At that moment, death and evil began to grow in influence until they eventually became the dominant force in the earth.

The life that flows from God is not just a physical force that produces the characteristics of physical life. The life that comes from God is called “Zoe” in the Greek language. This word can be defined as life in the absolute sense. It is life that has no death in it at all. This life is first of all spiritual life. As such, it does not just keep us alive for a few decades on the earth. It is the life that causes us to live forever with the Lord. It is eternal life.

Eternal life affects us spiritually, physically and emotionally. Eternal life brings healing to our bodies, prosperity to our lifestyle and victory in every situation we may face. Eternal life brings health and balance to our emotions and God’s love to all our relationships. When eternal life dominates an individual, they can face any circumstance with confidence knowing that the Lord is there today and that they have an eternal future with God.

When an individual is dominated by spiritual death, there will be constant struggle. Sickness and disease will be inevitable. Strife will be part of the foundation of life. A death dominated person may have good times and good things, but they will never be fully satisfied. They may have money but they will not be truly prosperous. They may have relationships that last, but most often they will be unhappy in their relationships and they will end in divorce or some other form of separation. At the end of physical life, they will enter an eternity of torment and isolation.

We do not need to look any further than the history of humanity to know that spiritual death is the dominant force in the world. Cruelty and destruction have always been just under the surface. When they manifest fully it is hard to fathom how such evil can exist. From the cruelty of ancient empires to the twentieth century tragedies of the holocaust and soviet oppression to the genocides occurring today we see the hand of death and its author.

In today’s scripture, we see the cause of such misery and the hope of life. Jesus tells us that the thief comes for one threefold purpose. He hates God and God’s creation. Jesus says he only comes to kill to steal and destroy. The thief is the devil and the world system he has created. People try to make it a system that helps but invariably the help ends up hurting instead. The greatest efforts of man to create a society where life dominates have ended in death, inequity and oppression. There is a hope for man.

Jesus says that he came to bring life and life more abundant. This is the life that we have been discussing. He says that he is the door to the sheep or sheepfold. The sheepfold is a place of refuge where the flock can be protected and provided for. In the sheepfold, the thief cannot get to them. Every system that came before him was inadequate to protect the sheep from the death that wanted to consume them. Jesus is the good shepherd and he laid down his life to provide us entrance into the sheepfold of life.

It has always been the will of the Heavenly Father that his children walk in life. We see that in the Garden. The fall brought death and corruption to man. It is the will of God that all people live free of this death and corruption. To that end, he sent Jesus into the earth to die an unjust death so that anyone who wanted to could have life once again. The sheepfold Jesus is speaking of is a place where man is reconnected with God. It is a place where the death that dominates society is taken out of the heart of the individual and life is put back into him.

When we receive Jesus as the Lord and savior of our lives, we enter his sheepfold. The life that flows from him becomes the environment in which we live. It is much like the protective clothing worn in a hazardous environment. If a person is around a harmful chemical or disease, they may be able to live exposed to it for a while but the exposure is dangerous and may be fatal. They can stay in that environment and it will not affect them as long as they have the suit on.

Salvation is a protective garment that enables us to live in the midst of death and yet enjoy the benefits of life. The only way to get that suit is through Jesus. He paid his life to give us life. Any other way will eventually lead to death.

We must remember that we still live in the hazardous environment. We cannot take off our protective “garments of salvation.” In Ephesians 6, Paul calls them the “full armor of God.” When we choose not to obey the voice of God, walk in his ways or keep his commandments, we are taking off our protection of salvation. If we allow ourselves to be exposed to death, we will experience all the things death brings. When we choose to walk in God’s ways, we will walk in his life.

Yesterday I talked a great deal about the conflict between life and death in the earth. That conflict still goes on today. Before Jesus, the point of conflict was Satan trying to keep the Messiah from coming while God was preparing the way for him to enter the world. After the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the conflict has been between the thief and his allies and the Good Shepherd and his allies.

The thief has one purpose. To kill God’s children, steal them from the sheepfold and completely destroy them if possible. His allies are those who never enter the sheepfold of God’s life. Most of them do not know they are the allies of the thief but they are.

The Good Shepherd’s purpose is to give life to all who enter the sheepfold. He does not want to give them just any kind of life. He wants to give them abundant life. Abundant life is a life that is greater in quantity and superior in quality to anything that the world has to offer. This life will provide all of the benefits we have spoken of today. This life will never end.

We must stay in this hazardous environment called the world. We have people who are still here that need rescue. There will come a day when we will leave this world behind. We are well equipped to go because if we have eternal life so heaven is our natural home. We will need no protective garment there, but the garments of salvation will become comfortable robes of righteousness and garments of praise that we will wear for eternity.

The Life Bringer

John 10:10 (NKJV) 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

This week we have been looking at how the story of the bible is unlocked by understanding two words. These words are life and death. In the natural, we understand these words to describe two states of being. Things such as the ability to take in food, adapt to the environment, grow, and reproduce define life. Death is the absence of those things. In the bible, life and death can mean the same things, but these words carry a much deeper significance as well.

Biblically, life is the nature of God. It is the force that flows from him in creation and the source of all good things in the human condition. The life of God at work in a person results in many things, the most important being eternal life in the presence of God. The life of God in the bible flows from the realm of the spirit and can affect the natural world. God is life.

Spiritual death came into the world at the fall of man. Adam chose to eat of the tree God commanded him to avoid. When he did, a corruption came into his spirit that permeated all of creation. This corruption did not originate with man. There was an angel called Lucifer who was the leader of the heavenly worship of almighty God. He decided he wanted the worship for himself and rebelled against God. The choice he made corrupted the life God gave him at his creation and it became death.

When man rebelled, he was joined to that death. Just as life is a force flowing from God that brings all that is good to whatever it touches, death is a force flowing from Satan that brings evil and corruption to all it touches.

When Jesus was born, he was the culmination of a plan God set in motion in the Garden of Eden to restore man to the life God originally intended for him. The garden had no death in it. There was nothing corrupt or evil. After the fall, everything began to die. Physical death was not immediate but the connection to spiritual death began to work immediately. Soon we see Cain murder Abel his brother. The seeds of corruption and death have produced their first harvest.

In Genesis 3:15 God tells the devil that all of this will change in the future.

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

The terms “bruise the heel and bruise the head” have specific meanings in Hebrew. To bruise the heel means to cause a minor injury. To bruise the head means to take away the lordship of a ruler. Shortly after Satan had won control of man and spiritual death had been unleashed into God’s creation, God told Satan that someone was coming who would take it all away from him.

Hidden in this short sentence is a great deal of information. This person would be the seed of woman. That is impossible. Women do not carry the seed of life they carry the egg that must be fertilized. What does the term seed of woman mean? It can only mean that the one who is coming will not be born of the seed of a human male but he will have a human mother. The one who will take away the lordship Satan and death have gained will be born of a virgin.

There would be hatred and warfare between her seed and the devils seed. What is the seed of the devil? I believe it is the world system that grew out of the influence of spiritual death. The sin, sickness and corruption in the world are part of that seed. Evil and cruelty are part of the satanic seed. All those who practice such things are a product of the seed God is speaking of in this verse. Jesus points to this in John chapter 8.

John 8:44 (NLT) 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Who or what is the seed of woman. The initial seed of woman is the only man ever born without a human father. The academic world may scoff at the idea of a virgin birth but God predicted this event at the dawn of history. Jesus did not have a human father. The bible tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon the Virgin Mary and caused her to conceive. The angel tells her that the child will be called the “Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” (Luke 1:34)

After the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, there will be another seed in the world. That seed is the life of God that came to the world as result of the ministry of Jesus. It is the same life God released into the world at creation. It will be available to anyone who wants it. Jesus speaks of this to the Pharisee Nicodemus in John chapter 3.

John 3:3 (NKJV) 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The fall of Adam caused the seed of spiritual death to pass upon all who were born of his natural seed. Jesus reveals that anyone who chooses may be born again. This new birth does not happen in the natural. However, something very real happens in the spirit. The death, which is the nature of Satan that came upon man at the fall, is replaced by the life of God. Any man, woman or child who chooses to receive the sacrifice of Jesus as the payment their own sin and submits to Jesus as the Lord of their life will be born a second time of this life seed.

The world system and all who have not received Jesus as Lord are the seed of the devil spoken of in Genesis 3. Those who have been born again are the seed of woman in the same scripture.

1 Peter 1:22-23 (NKJV) 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.

There is one important difference between these two groups. The seed of the devil is born physically and eventually dies physically. He cannot “recruit” so his ranks are limited. The seed of Life comes into any person who chooses to trust in the Lord. When that happens, Satan loses a soldier and the Lord gains one. Anyone can be born again and become eternal children of life. All of the blessings of life come to them while the curse of death is driven back in this life and completely consumed in the life to come.

Jesus came to bring this life to us. The only question is will you receive it as your own. Tomorrow we will look a little more closely at the war between the seed of woman and the seed of the devil. Today, examine yourself. Have you received the seed of life by receiving Jesus as savior and Lord. It is not hard to do. Just open your heart to him, ask him to forgive your sins and yield your life to him. Read the gospel of John and let life begin.

What is Life and What is Death 2

Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV) 16  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

In yesterday’s post, I said that the key to understanding the bible is understanding how it interprets two words; life and death.  Deuteronomy lays out a choice for God’s people.  We can have either life and blessing or death and cursing.  The Lord is not talking about physical life and physical death.  He is talking about spiritual life and spiritual death.

Yesterday we focused on life.  Biblically, life is not just a state of being.  Life is a force that flows from the heart of God.  It is the nature of God.  The Greek word Zoe is defined as “life in the absolute sense.”  This means life that has no death in it.  I like to define life as the “thing in God that makes him God.” 

In James 1:17 we read that all good and perfect gifts come from God in whom “there is no variableness or shadow of turning.”  There is not even a shadow of anything that is not good or blessing coming from God.  Where, then, do the evil and negative things of human existence come from?

Just as life is a force that brings positive creative things to the earth, death is a force that brings corruption to the earth.  Death comes from the heart of another spirit being.  Originally, his name was Lucifer.  He led the heavenly worship of almighty God.  He was an angel created by God for this purpose.  As he observed the worship God received, he wanted more.  He opened his heart to a corruption that transformed the created life God had given him into something else.  That something was an evil force that corrupted everything it touched.  That force is called death. 

When God cast Lucifer from his presence, he was given a new name, Satan.  Satan was placed in the Garden of Eden with man as part of the system of choices man would be asked to make.  Man could choose to eat from the tree of life.  This tree represented the nature of God.  If he ate from that tree, he would live forever.  There was a second tree in the Garden.  It was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God commanded man not to eat of this tree.  This tree represented the nature of Satan, death. 

One might ask why God did not want man to know the difference between good and evil.  God did want them to know the difference, but he wanted to be the one to define the difference.  The real nature of this tree was rebellion.  It was not just to know good and evil, it was the temptation for man to take control of what was good and evil.  This is the essence of Satan’s rebellion in heaven.

Today’s verse gives us the commandment of God to man when he told him not to eat of the second tree.  It looks like what God said would happen did not.  Man ate of the tree and did not immediately die.  He lived on for hundreds of years.  However, God was not talking about physical death.  The Hebrew meaning gives us some insight into what God was really saying. 

The literal translation of the he Hebrew is this.  “In the day you eat of it, in dying you shall surely die.”  Two deaths are spoken of here.  One death was immediate and the other the eventual result of the first.  Adam did die the day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He died spiritually.  His spirit was cut off from the life of God and connected to the negative “life” force of Satan.  We call that negative life force death.

God had created man to live forever in a perfect environment.  He had given him everything he needed to live and grow.  He gave him the tree of Life, which would have sustained him forever.  There was no death in the garden.  There was no sickness in the garden.  There was no lack of any kind.  Everything lived in perfect harmony.  That was the way God intended man to live.  However, he had to choose life.  For this choice to be real, there had to be a second choice; death.

Genesis 3 is the chapter that tells us the choice man made and the effect it had on all of creation.  We read of a change of man’s nature.  Righteousness has become unrighteousness.  Love becomes jealousy and the shifting of  blame.  Fear replaces faith.  This not only affected the man and woman, but it extended to creation.  Death began to corrupt the perfect environment that God had created.

That corruption was not immediate, but it was persistent.  As the history of the earth unfolds, we see that man’s rebellion has unleashed something that transforms the earth from a perfect garden to a place where man must fight for his survival.  Sickness, poverty and hatred appear.  Man has to labor to produce enough to survive and the earth no longer cooperates with him.  He was created with dominion over his world.  Now he is dominated by it. 

The corruption seen in the natural is only a symptom of something that has happened in the soul and spirit of man.  By Genesis chapter six, man has been so corrupted by death that God is forced to destroy civilization in order to preserve a remnant of humanity.  Noah’s flood did not happen because God “lost his temper.”  It happened because the thought and intent of every other person’s heart was “only evil continually.”  The destruction of society had already occurred spiritually.  The physical destruction was inevitable.  God intervened so he could preserve Noah and his family.

From the Garden of Eden to this very day, these two forces have been in conflict on the earth and in man.  Death gained the upper hand when man rebelled, but God was not through.  He began to deal with man on the only level he could.  He used the natural, death-dominated world.  He spoke to man through prophets.  He gave man a physical covenant so there could be relationship on the highest possible level.  He gave him the law so he could walk according to the standards that the life of God needed to flourish.  However, through all of this God was working toward something better. 

God’s plan was to make full life available to man again.  Death brought corruption to the earth and to man.  That corruption produced every evil thing that we see in the human condition.  This force infected every area of human existence.  God was not going to allow this force to go unchallenged.  It was his plan to restore the ability for his children to choose life.  In the process he would destroy death and “him who had the power of death, the devil.”  (Heb. 2:14)

The story of the bible is the story of these two opposing forces.  Life is trying to restore man to relationship with God.  Death is trying to destroy any knowledge of that relationship from the consciousness of man.  Death corrupts good things and makes them evil.  Life finds good in the midst of evil and energizes it. 

Because of man’s choice, death is the dominant force in the earth.  However, life can never be fully defeated.  Life gains victory in every newborn child and with every person who chooses to obey the voice of God, walk in his ways and keep his commandments.  We see this battle continue until God brings forth the ultimate champion of life.  His name was Jesus of Nazareth.  He was and is the “Christ” or anointed one.  He was and is the Messiah, the bringer of life to the earth once again.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NKJV) 14  Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15  and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

What is Life and What is Death

Deuteronomy 30:15 (NKJV) 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,

We have been looking at the role choices play in walking in favor that comes from God. We must choose to obey God’s voice, walk in his ways and keep his commandments so that we will be in a position where God can bring favor and blessing into our lives. In Deuteronomy, we have seen that the Lord has set a choice before us. We can choose life and blessing or death and cursing. The choice is ours and God will not violate that choice.

I believe it is important for us to understand what this choice really means. Many people think the bible is difficult to understand. It is not difficult if you learn what the bible means by these two words; life and death. We understand these words from a physical perspective. Most of the time when the bible uses them it is not speaking from the perspective of natural life but of spiritual life and spiritual death.

What is life? It is not just a state of being. Life is a force that flows from God. God is life. There are three things that bible says that God is. They are light, love and life. These three forces are aspects of the same thing. They are forces that flow from the nature of God. God does not “have” these things. God “is” these three forces.

The word “force” could be a little confusing unless we understand it properly. Last week I mentioned the law of sin and death and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. I likened them to the law of gravity that describes the force of gravity. A force in natural physical law is a flow of power. Life, light and love are three aspects of the power that flows from the being of God.

One of the most interesting natural forces is electricity. Electricity is a flow of power that can do many different things. It can light your home. It can cool your home and heat it. It can transmit sound, pictures and data. It can drive your car or run a factory. It is the same power, or force, but it has many applications. The force of life that flows from the nature of God is similar only far, far greater.

This should not be confused with the idea portrayed in the Star Wars movies about a “force” that flows between everything and controls everything. This idea was drawn from eastern philosophies. Although it is an attempt to explain what I am talking about, it makes this “force” something impersonal. The force of life that flows from God is not impersonal. It is the nature of the person of God himself. It is the thing in God that makes God what he is.

We first see this force manifested in creation. In Genesis 1:1, the bible says that God created the heavens and the earth. In the verse 3, the Lord says, “Let there be light.” In that moment, something came from inside of God. It was a creative force that he called light. Science tells us that the building block of all matter is light.

The next thing he does is speak various aspects of our world into existence. In the first statement, God released that aspect of his nature called light. As he continues to organize creation, he comes to all the living things. He speaks and they appear. Out of his nature there is another force flowing. That force is life.

We all know that there is a great debate in the scientific world as to the existence of God. Many scientists see the creator in the creation. However, they are in the minority and they are not the ones we tend to hear about. For the most part the scientific community rejects the idea of a creator. They cite the “big bang” and the theory of evolution. There is one question for which they have no answer. Their persistence in ignoring this question actually goes against their own scientific method. From where did the first life come?

I remember when I was in school that my science teacher spoke of the ignorance of people in the middle ages who thought that maggots just appeared in meat. They did not understand that flies had to land on the meat and lay eggs for the little worms to appear. He said, “There is no such thing as spontaneous generation. Life must be present for life to be produced.” Therefore, I ask again, “Where did the first life come from?”

If you want to accept evolution, fine. However, today we cannot put dead proteins into a petri dish and have them produce life. They simply decay. Life must come from life. Even if that life evolved from one level to the next eventually producing man, where did the first life come from?

A popular theme today is that life on earth came from space. Some alien creature came to earth, deposited life here and, viola, evolution begins. That still does not answer our question. Where did the first life “out there” come from? I humbly submit that the bible gives us the only possible answer. Life came from God. God is life and he transmitted that life from the dimension of the spirit to the natural world in which we live.

In Genesis 1:26 we hear God speaking about his desire for a family.

Genesis 1:26 (NKJV) 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

In this statement, we see the third of the forces that flows from God manifested. That is the force of love. Love is the motivating force that flows from the heart of God. He wanted a family to love. When he said, “Let us make man in our image” we see reflected the desire of every parent who chooses to have a family. Let us bring into the world another human being who carries our life.”

The aspect of God’s nature called love motivates him. The aspect of God’s nature called light is the substance that flows from the spirit realm and touches the natural world. However, the force that creates is the force called life. There is a Greek word that describes this kind of life. It is the word “Zoë.”

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words calls this kind of life, “Life in the absolute sense.” It is life in which there is no death at all. I like to illustrate this by looking at something called absolute zero.

I live in the Northeastern United States. It gets cold here in the winter. We will often have two or more weeks in a row where the temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Absolute zero is 273.15 degrees colder than 0 degrees. Absolute zero is the point at which there is no heat at all. Molecular motion stops.

When it is 0 degrees at my house, I feel very cold. However, there are still 273.15 degrees of heat in the air. That is hard to fathom. A heat pump both cools and heats a home. It cools the home by extracting heat from the air in the summer and pumping it out of the house. In the winter, it extracts the heat out of the cold air and pumps it into the house. How is this possible? It is possible because even in winter there is still heat in the cold outside air. At 0 degrees we still have 273 degrees of heat to draw from.

The life of God is absolute. There is no death in it at all. At absolute zero a heat pump would be of no use because there is no heat to pump. God’s life cannot produce dead things. Look at this scripture.

James 1:17 (NKJV) 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Everything good comes from God. There is not even a “shadow of turning” in him. He is not even thinking about changing. Where then do evil things come from? Join me tomorrow for more.