Saturday, 1 July 2017

Don't let the devil take you out. ~ Ganeida

This is last week’s sermon.  It was never preached as the Lord wished to do something else last week.  To be clear before we start:  I am not a Greek scholar; I do not expect anyone to remember the Greek; the Greek is there to show that there is a solid basis in scripture for what we are teaching.

What I want to teach on today is how the devil manages to take out most believers without them even realising it. I am hugely indebted to Rick Renner for the Greek basis of this teaching.  It highlights how important it is to not just read the word of God but to study it so that we understand what it is really saying rather than what we think it is saying based on our understanding of how the scriptures have been translated. This is part of our ongoing study on Revival & integral to our understanding of standing in faith to believe for what has been promised.

We will be taking our instruction from James, the ½ brother of our Lord Jesus.  Writing to Jewish Christians James addresses certain doctrinal errors amongst these early believers.

James 1:2 begins: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 

The first thing I would like you to note is the little word *when*. When troubles of any kind comes… not if they come but when they come. As Jesus Himself informed us In this world you will have trouble. [John 16:33]

Christianity is not a * get out of jail free* pass to a trouble free existence.  However when we understand how the spiritual powers & principalities of this world work we are equipped with the tools we need to be overcomers.  So we understand that at different times of our lives we will face various trials & tribulations: big ones, little ones, earthshattering ones, ones that threaten to overwhelm us, ones that threaten to undermine our faith.  What we do when that happens determines how we will come out of what we face.

The word translated various can mean many coloured [poikilos] ~ so the meaning is for all the various troubles that can occur to us during our lifetime.  Whatever it is, James is telling us, here is the way to deal with it.  Firstly he uses the word peirasmos for trial. This can mean either a test or a proof. The easiest way to understand this is that the devil tests us but we can use it to prove the reality of our faith.

We understand this from the second part of this verse: For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. Know is ginōskō which according to Mounce determines *whether the action be inceptive or complete and settled* In other words do you believe what you have been taught & can you put it into action?  Is it something you are just learning or is it something you have tried & found to work? In order to determine if something works we have to endure. 

This is true of our entire spiritual walk with the Lord.  Does God heal?  Scripture says He does so you have to endure until healing occurs.  One thing’s for sure; if you give up you won’t be healed!  If you say, well God only heals sometimes or God doesn’t choose to heal me, then guess what?  You won’t be healed! If you don’t believe God blesses financially you won’t see financial blessing in your life.  If you have prayed for wisdom you must believe you have it before you will see it manifested in your life.

So you see James is saying just knowing something with your mind isn’t much help to you.  Your mind can be changed by your circumstances but the Greek means unending: know that you know that you know that you know…forever.  It is something ongoing & not subject to change.

He says right at the beginning to count it all joy…He doesn’t say enjoy all your trials & tribulations.  Rather he says add it up. See what it equals.  What do you get?  Trouble plus trouble = double trouble! No! The testing of your faith produces endurance.  More than that, it slams the devil.  It puts him firmly in his place as a defeated foe. It is taking a stand & declaring who you actually believe.  Do you believe the Father of Lies whose chief job is to rob, kill & destroy or do you believe you are victorious in Jesus Christ because He paid the price for your life on the cross?

When Jesus died on the cross He took all our pain, all our sickness, all our punishment, all our sin ~ everything.  Every last bit.

Now I am going to say something here that I learnt from studying literature because I have heard way too many Christians get muddled up & attribute things to God that God does not attribute to Himself because they believe the person who is saying them. Like Jonah last week.  Jonah is an unreliable witness so not everything he says can be believed.  His understanding of God, who He is & how He acts was skewed by his wrong thinking.

So when I look at James I must ask, how reliable a witness is he?  In other words, can he be believed? 

James was part of Jesus’ family that declared him mad.  Mark 3:21 When his family heard what was happening, they tried to take him away. "He's out of his mind," they said. James didn’t become a believer until after Jesus’ resurrection. Yet having once become a believer he is stalwart. He doesn’t budge from his firm convictions.  He has been an eyewitness to the life, death & resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. I therefore consider him to be a reliable witness.  So when he says something is so, it is so.

James says the man who remains steadfast when tested is blessed. [1:12] By verse 13 James has something very interesting to say:  And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.

Now the word James uses for tempted is peirazō & it means to devastate, to crush, to destroy. Jesus came to give us life ~ James has assured us we will receive that life as the genuineness of our faith is proven.[1:12]  Who is it that seeks to devastate, crush & destroy?

Be very clear.  It is never God who seeks to destroy us.  James is even more adamant.  He says that God doesn’t even permit it as from a distance. Our understanding here is based on 2 little Greek words.  

The 1st is apo.  James is saying, Don’t say God has allowed this to happen ~ as from a distance.  He doesn’t allow bad things indirectly [apo] or directly [hypo]. If that were so the whole point of the cross would be invalidated. In the strongest possible terms James is saying: You’re to stop saying what you’re saying!  How dare you accuse God of such things?! Don’t even think it!

We have a good God ~ & a bad devil.  Don’t get them mixed up.

Now the thing I want you to understand, & that James wanted his readers to understand, is how very much satan hates this sort of thinking.  He hates Christians who really understand who they are in Christ, Christians who can’t be moved positionally, Christians who know that they know that they know ~ because however hard & long he fights he knows he cannot win.  We say he is a defeated foe but we prove it when he tests our faith!  If he can move us, if he can get us to deny the goodness of God, if he can move us into doubt & unbelief, he wins!  Sadly all too often that happens.  We don’t receive our healing immediately so we doubt God’s goodness.  We doubt His ability to heal.  We doubt he cares about little old us.

The thing is when we move into a position of faith by saying that we are going to walk in divine health or prosperity or any other spiritual promise it triggers a spiritual attack.  The last thing satan wants is for our faith to grow because our prayers have been answered.  Instead he wants to sow discord & unbelief & doubt because that keeps us weak & helpless & no real threat to him!  It makes unbelievers think we are weak & useless because there is no proof in our lives of what we say we believe.

Now we can know a teaching but it doesn’t become very real to us until we receive illumination through the Holy Spirit & then practise it by faith.  I will give you some examples from my own walk in faith. 

I struggled with why God doesn’t appear to heal some people.  Why this one but not that one?  Is that person in sin? Does God play favourites?  Scripture say he doesn’t play favourites.  He is completely impartial.  

Then I heard Todd White, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, say: Scripture says God is a Healing God so it doesn’t matter what I see with my eyes or experience in the flesh.  It doesn’t change the fact that God heals.  I’m a word person so that grounded me.  God says He heals.  I believe what He says even if I can’t see it, even if I’m not experiencing it.  God still heals.  He is the God that healeth me.[Exodus 15:26]

Now I grew up during the years when prosperity teaching first became big & I grew up in a denomination that didn’t think much of this teaching so I wasn’t big on asking God for prosperity.  To me it seemed greedy, selfish, avaricious…just plain nasty.
So when this subject came up in bible college I was pretty sceptical. I had heard the Give & it shall be given unto you… until I was tired of it.  I was embarrassed by the avariciousness I detected in certain preachers & I didn’t want to be like that.  I don’t think God likes that either.  However my understanding was off.

Why should we want to be blessed financially?  So that we can be a blessing to others!  Once I understood this, given illumination by the Holy Spirit, I determined to walk by faith for my financial needs ~ & guess what happened?  Yep.  Satan attacked!  Just because my head & my spirit understood didn’t mean my flesh was in agreement.  I had to endure while satan attacked our finances.  I found it nerve~wracking. But he is a defeated foe ~ & God is good!

God is good all the time.  God is good when satan is testing our faith to see if we actually believe what we say we believe.  God is good when satan tries to destroy us.  God is good when satan attempts to crush us.  He is good when we encounter various trials & temptations.

We can take great assurance from Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. As psalm 30 says:weeping may endure for an evening but joy cometh in the morning. 

So whatever trials are in your life predetermine that Jesus came that you might have life & have it abundantly. Claim it.  Speak it.  Believe it.  Do not let satan steal the life Jesus bought you with his lies.


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