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Archive of ‘Faithful to the Word’ category

Post-Easter: What now?

In our evangelical culture of "easy grace", it's important to keep the cross in view after Easter.

 

Easter reminds true Christians of how much Jesus loved us; yes, even through every scornful word and undeserved beating that He received on the way to, and eventually on Golgotha. His sacrifice brings us to our knees in praise and thanksgiving, and we are simply overwhelmed at what the Father has done through His Son, for us, and we are awestruck by the incredible love that the Son has for us. These three days (Easter) are marked by sweet fellowship and the joy of salvation and are unparalleled by any other time of the year.

Then what?

On Easter Monday, as our daily routines and weekly to-do lists creep back into our minds, do the impact and eternal significance of the cross begin to fade from view? Could it be that we only seek the benefits of Jesus’ sacrifice and the resulting blessings, forgetting that we too have a cross to bear? Statements such as, “Let go and let God” or the concept of “easy grace” might tempt us to unfasten the belt of truth, lower the shield of faith, and put down the sword of the Spirit until all that we have left is the helmet of salvation. Do we mistakenly (or intentionally, even) “rebuke Satan” or “plead the blood of Christ” in an effort to live victorious lives, forgetting that joyous and triumphant living is attained through holy living and the knowledge that we belong to Christ? Or do we devote each day to God, powered by the Spirit, to conform our thoughts, wills, and affections to be like the mind of Christ? Do we battle daily to tame our tongues, kill our flesh, knock down our idols, and sever our conformity to the world? Are we willing to drive stakes into our prideful selves, cognizant that our identity is in Christ Jesus?

Let me be clear: Our good deeds do not earn or keep our salvation. Only faith in the redeeming blood of Christ, spilled on the cross, attains salvation – and faith in Him alone! Nor am I attempting to place a burden on anyone – Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Paul tells us to work out our salvation, as we obey God in the process of being like Christ Jesus, knowing that ultimately the work is His to do (Romans 8:29; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:20-21). While we will never be completely sinless or completely holy on this side of eternity, we can seek to love and glorify Him every day in our obedience to His Word, His commands.

Our joy is found in following Jesus, and a successful walk with God is to live lives that are consistent with what God has done in us and for us. Paul committed to know nothing but Christ crucified – how glorious would it be to live that way? Indeed!

A joyous, introspective, and blessed Saturday and Resurrection Sunday to you and your loved ones. All praise and glory to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

 

 

 

 

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From Thorn of Pride to Throne of Grace

 

In this article, we visit the Garden of Eden where the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life tempted Eve to sin. New Agers Maya Angelou, Marianne Williamson, and Louise Hay are often quoted by evangelicals, however, these teachers promote the deadly sin of pride. How can we avoid the temptations to become godlike and instead become Christlike?

 

 

Welcome to the first article in the Faithful to the Word series.

Have you noticed how often Scripture mentions spiritual unfaithfulness? From Genesis to Revelation, God reveals spiritual harlotry and apostasy, committed by both Jew and Gentile. Thankfully, God also reveals His love and mercy in drawing us back to Him when we’ve veered from His instruction. Regardless, we must be careful to be faithful to God and His Word, both in knowledge and obedience, as we ready ourselves for the return of Jesus.

In this article, we’ll look at the temptation of pride, specifically as it was in the Garden of Eden. We’ll examine the deceptions that led to Eve’s unfaithfulness, why Eve’s decisions were wrong, how these deceptions have entered the modern church, and how we can be faithful to God and His Word when pride tempts us.

The Bite  (Genesis 3:1-6)

 

Genesis 3-1-6

 

1. Lust of the Flesh

In verse six, what was Eve’s first justification for eating from the tree?

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Like Eve, when we decide for ourselves what is good, and when we do things for our own pleasure, we are fulfilling the lust of the flesh. We follow the flesh – gratify our selfish desires – when we submit to anything that is contrary to Scripture, such as following our hearts, or following the teachings of man. In fact, a teaching (or saying) of man is “Follow your heart”; however, let’s look at Jeremiah 17:9:

 

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How is the heart described?  The heart is ______________ above _________   _____________, and desperately ____________; who can understand it?

The heart – our emotions and desires – is deceitful and sick! We are often blind to the extent that the Fall has affected us. Mark 7:21-23 says that evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness come out of the heart. It is dangerous to follow the heart.

The heart leads us astray in smaller things as well – it convinces us that a large Twitter following equals importance, or that we simply had to buy the pair of Louboutins. Or the heart (our reasoning) may try to convince us that it is possible to separate the physical aspect of yoga from its demonic spiritual aspect.

Often we say, “God knows my heart” – yes, He does know our hearts, much better than we do. Proverbs 21:2 warns that every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.

False teachings propel us toward living ungodly, self-centred lives, away from living God-centred lives. Consider this quote from the late New Ager Maya Angelou, who is often quoted by evangelicals: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”.

Angelou’s quote is not biblical, and it teaches us that we alone are the authority. It is the exact mistake that Eve made, and it’s why we need objective and not subjective guidance for living our lives. We need an authority outside of ourselves to teach us what is right and wrong. Let’s look at 2 Timothy 3:16:

 

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Fill in the blanks: __________ Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in ________________,

Notice that all of Scripture is useful – not just the verses we like and not just some verses in the New Testament. We have a glorious bounty of instruction to guide us! Please note that Scripture is not a manual on how to be happy; this instruction helps us to live righteous or godly lives. 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, “Be holy, for I am Holy”. Again, it is holiness, not happiness, that leads to Christlikeness. It is this instruction of holiness that we need to look for when we listen to pastors or teachers. When the serpent spoke to Eve, she listened and followed her heart and her own desires instead of consulting her husband, whose duty it was to protect her. Today, we can consult the Bible and the Holy Spirit, who will guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

2. Lust of the Eyes

Revisiting Genesis 3:6, what is the second reason that Eve found the fruit of the tree appealing?

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The lust of the eyes is an obsessive desire to own what appeals to us, and it manifests as greed, stinginess, unnecessary hoarding, and coveting. Lust of the eyes occurs when we’ve gazed longingly at the world for so long that it’s easier to spot a counterfeit designer bag than it is to spot a counterfeit Gospel. The gift of vision is a miracle; however, Satan often uses our eyes to tempt us to lust. Lust blinds the eyes, tricks the brain, and deceives us into falling for what the world calls “beautiful” and “good”. The world is an expert in marketing products and lifestyles that may lead us to take our eyes off God.

Notice that the appearance of the fruit was attractive – it enticed Eve. It’s tempting to think that all evil is ugly while all that glitters is gold; however, 2 Corinthians 11:14 warns as follows, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Attractiveness could very well be a form of deception!

Another popular New Age author and speaker Louise Hay teaches: “I act as if I already have what I want – it’s an excellent way to attract happiness in my life”.

Lust of the eyes may also birth an appetite for an accumulation of material things, heaps of unnecessary stuff. Not only is Hay teaching the unbiblical Law of Attraction, but her quote also sets the conditions for soul-destroying greed. After all, why should we settle for keeping up with the Joneses when we can be the Joneses?

How can we be wise and faithful women who are not deceived by materialism?

First, we need to heed the many warnings in the Bible about materialism and the love of money. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 is just one example:

 

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Fill in the blanks: But those who _______________ to be _______________ fall into _______________, into a _______________, into many _______________ and _______________ _______________ that plunge people into _______________ and _______________. For the ______________ of money is a root of _________ _________ _____ __________. It is through this craving that some have___________________ __________ ___________ _______ __________ and pierced _________________ with many pangs.

What a warning! Notice that being rich and money in itself are not evil. It’s the desire to be rich and the love of money that may cause us to fall into temptation and to experience subsequent destruction. This love of money leads many people to leave the faith that offers salvation, and it keeps countless souls away from the Gospel. This verse makes it clear that those who fall into this snare pierce themselves – nothing and no one else can take the blame.

Instead of focusing on what is appealing to the eyes, 1 Timothy 6:11-12 instructs us to flee from the pursuit of wealth and to focus on the good fight:

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”

The Lord Jesus Christ will be with us always! No material possession comes close to satisfying our desire to be with God, and no material possession comes close to glorifying God. When we keep our eyes on Jesus alone, we will begin to see how vain the world is and how little it offers.

3. The Pride of Life

Once again, referring to Genesis 3:6, what was the third reason that Eve found the tree appealing?

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Eve wanted to be wise outside of God’s set parameters. When we’re prideful, we think our ways are better than God’s way. Additionally, Eve wanted to be like God, which was also Satan’s downfall. When we desire importance or popularity, we idolize ourselves. Pride leads us to crave attention, worldly identity, appreciation, and position (at home, work, and society). In today’s world of “selfies” and “likes”, it has never been easier to worship oneself.

Consider this quote by New Ager Marianne Williamson, who is sadly also often quoted by evangelicals:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are adequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Doesn’t this quote sound similar to the account of Satan’s fall in Isaiah 14:14?

“You said in your heart,

‘I will ascend to heaven;

I will set my throne on high;

I will sit on the mount of assembly

in the far reaches of the north.

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.'”

Satan loves it when we follow in his fallen footsteps; he wants us to look for “the god in ourselves”. This is a subtle but important twist – we are not to become god-like, but Christ-like. How do we flee from the temptation to become god-like? How do we focus on becoming Christ-like instead?

 

2 Peter 3-18

 

Fill in the blanks: But grow in the ____________ and ____________ of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

By growing in spiritual maturity and knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ, we will avoid being led astray by false teachings and false teachers.

Romans 12:1-2

Romans 12-1-2

 

Fill in the blanks: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to ______________ __________ ______________ as a ______________ _____________ holy, and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be _______________ to this ______________, but be _______________ by the renewal of your _______________, that by _____________ you may _______________ what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To be like Christ, we must offer ourselves and yield to God. This involves biblical meditation and the study of Scripture, so that our minds can be renewed according to what God deems is good, acceptable, and perfect. By doing this, we will be able to test and discern the beliefs and values of this world, a world ruled by Satan. God must become greater, while we must become lesser (John 3:30).

 In Conclusion

Sisters, are we following our hearts? Are we running after teachings that are contrary to Scripture? Or are we faithful to God and His Word? Do not be fooled by the “positive” and attractive messages out there.

Consider meditating upon the following verses:

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:1-2).

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy'”(1 Peter 1:14-16).

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9).

Hallowed be His name,

Pamela

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