In my earlier post Being brave and smart to tackle danger (Part 1) we focused on knowing and asserting your rights. Today I want to show how to use the truth to your advantage, use your words wisely and keep your eyes open to tackle any attacks.
Let’s read Acts 23:1-11 which shows how the Apostle Paul at the Sanhedrin effectively used the above principles to keep himself out of danger:
1 And looking intently at the council, Paul said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” 2 And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” 4 Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.
11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”
When in faced with danger, do not cower in fear. Be like Paul, who kept his eyes and mind open to use the situation to his advantage. He didn’t have to lie but took advantage of the truth. He tackled the high priest Ananias who illegally tried to get Paul slapped. Paul didn’t use foul words but used clear logic that the high priest was trying to judge as per the law and yet himself was going against the methods of the law. Only later when Paul was told that Ananias was the high priest that he didn’t go ahead with rebuking him any further.
But Ananias was not the only person to be stopped. There were more. Paul must have understood that if he didn’t act in time something really bad will happen to him. Again like I mentioned in my earlier post, Paul did suffer martyrdom but that day was not day to be martyred.
Since Paul himself was trained in the ways of the Pharisees he could easily distinguish between the Pharisees and their rivals the Sadducees. He sensed a great opportunity to set things right. So he said aloud, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” Due to great divide between the Pharisees and the Sadducees on the reality of the resurrection with the result that some of Pharisees spoke in Paul’s favor. (This is one of the good things of the Pharisees unlike the Sadducees who deny angels, spirits and resurrection who are therefore vile little heretics)
As a matter of fact, Paul was in trial because he claimed Jesus as the Lord and also that Jesus rose from the dead (this is a teaching central to the Christian faith and any deviation from this is heresy). So Paul did NOT lie his way out of trouble. With some of the Pharisees now agree that there was no fault with Paul, it gradually resulted in a violent clash between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Roman tribune then intervened by getting the soldiers to save Paul from this fighting. And of course, the Lord appreciated Paul and told him the he will get to testify in Rome for Christ as how he did in Jerusalem.
Now learning from Paul’s case you can apply this too in your life. Suppose, someone is trying to draw a gun on you and you don’t have a weapon. Then scream and say loudly ‘please don’t hurt me with your gun, I did no wrong’. This will either alert the people nearby to save you or dissuade the attacker or even give you a small time window to escape.
Suppose you are stuck in a very bad lawsuit in which you are wrongly targeted and suddenly you realize that there is an organization which helps out those in trouble like you, then reach out to them. Like in cases of international business disputes, you know very well that if the other countries court’s are biased against your nation then they won’t give you a fair hearing, then get in what are known as arbitrators to give you some justice. If you are under racial attacks, first get yourself out of danger and then reach to organizations that tackle racism (Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti Defamation League, Newham Monitoring Project, National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR) or whichever similar organization in your region). Just keep your eyes and mind open for any such individuals or groups which help out people in trouble.
Imagine you are an Aussie citizen roaming in South Africa and due to whatever reason, you are being chased by gun wielding thugs. And if you happen to see the Australian embassy near you, then don’t be a hero to stand cornered to fight the minions of debauchery, you simply get into the embassy and save your life. I’m sure the Aussie guards will be a great deterrent to your assailants. This tip should work for any citizen with his/her own country’s embassy normally.
If you are troubled by demons, do not play coy with your preacher and behave as if you are in pristine condition. Open your mind and be humble enough to at least get help in private from your church elders and it’s people trained in deliverance ministry. All you need to do is speak and say that you need help.
Appeal unto Christ Jesus when in danger by evil spirits. Don’t be a victim. Christ has authority over all of the powers of the Evil One. Take advantage of this truth.
Christ be with you!
P.S : Part 3 of this will be out soon. Pray for me.
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15)
Never ever be a legalistic person in trying to restrict children from coming to Christ. Because Jesus does not restrict himself to only the grown ups. He is there for the kids too. If a child wants to read the Bible or sing praises to God then you might as well encourage such things. There is nothing in the Bible that says to discourage kids from trying to learn about Jesus our Lord.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 says this about teaching children the word of God; “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
No wonder, when a child wants to know about Jesus Christ do not give excuses saying that they are not come of age. Don’t delay their walk into the church services. Just think, how come the Evil One doesn’t bother about the age of children? He won’t hesitate to let children learn obscene language at school. He will try to make them focus too much on the TV instead of studies. So why make the Devil have a field day tempting children via the various deceptions of the world while you wait till the kids are grown up? Be a real soldier for Christ and cut off the plans of the Devil for your children. Teach your child about the Gospel. Teach them to be alert and prayerful. Most importantly teach them everything about Jesus Christ and his saving power.
I remember a preacher saying, ‘Christian youth are not the future, they are the present’. This couldn’t be more true. Why wait for Christian kids or youth to cross like 35-40 years to be zealous for God and so work for him? Instead you can always encourage them to do whatever little thing they can for the glory of God. Like singing in the choir, making Christian art work and poems, praying if they hear of someone in need etc. There’s always something good a child can do. All they need is the right direction and encouragement. This can happen best when they are aware of the grace and salvation that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. Never let them be denied this.
Christ be with you!
In the world there are people who seem quite wise in their words until the time their reasoning is questioned. The same thing happens in the church. Especially in churches dominated by legalism or heresy. Is cross-questioning someone consistent with the Bible? Yes it is.
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17 ESV)
We don’t question someone for the sake of doing so. It can be that we need to ask questions for clarification on what the person spoke first. Sometimes it can be because we want to stand up for the Gospel.
There’s a thing you can consider before cross-questioning someone who is speaking ill about you or ill about the Christian faith. Let’s read the following Bible verse
If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13 ESV)
Yes my friend, it is foolish to try to use cross-questioning as an answer to something, especially when the other person has not been heard. Be patient and try to hear out what the other person is trying to say and then cross question. Sometimes cross-questioning prevents a person who spoke ill of you from speaking ill of you again.
Like I said earlier, you can cross question others for clarification. Its better to ask a question and get your doubts resolved or simply keep it all underneath and waiting to explode into anger later.
For instance, today if a person in church insists that praying in tongues is the best way of praying and wants to everyone to try only that. However, you feel that any prayer said in faith is good enough but you keep quiet at that time. So later you can’t keep itself to yourself and reach out to others saying that praying in tongues is not the best but there are other forms of praying too. So then two groups emerge, one by you saying that we can pray any prayer as long as it’s in faith and then the other saying that praying in tongues is the only prayer form that is valid. No group is willing to hear out the other in a fair and free meeting. This could then lead to conflict in the church with the obvious name calling. Then the person who started off the theory that praying in tongues is the only prayer will try to put the blame on you. He may say that you didn’t speak to him about it and didn’t give him a fair chance to explain himself.
Cut back to the present time, that same person insists that praying in tongues is supreme. You can cross question him saying, ‘I’ve heard that the Bible says prayer of the righteous man avails much, so I think you are trying to say praying in tongues is an act of faith, correct?’. To this he may say ‘yes’ and for this you can tell him even other types of praying methods are best as long they are done in faith. If he says ‘no’ then you can tell him that praying in tongues is indeed good but there are times such a marriage service or baptism service where prayers are needed to be said in simple words for sake of uniformity. You may further add that its good that people pray in tongues but it doesn’t mean that we give up our other praying methods.
Jesus himself cross questioned others when they tried to ensare him by his words. Here are few instances:
And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marvelled at him. (Mark 12:13-17)
The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. (John 18:19-24 ESV)
Sometimes, it’s not even about matters of religious affairs. Your preacher suggests that a particular place is the best place for a church family picnic. But you have another place in mind which you feel may be more fun. You may ask him like this, ‘If the place is yet to be finalized, then may I suggest another place which might be more fun? I can give you the details on that’.’
You can even try this in the office as well. Some manager in the office is speaking of ‘smart sizing’ the staff and how it will increase the revenue of the company. You can just ask, ‘does smart sizing mean that some of us are going to get kicked off our jobs?’ and also ‘how increasing the company revenue help those who are going to get fired, will they be given handouts if they are jobless?’. Tough questions indeed. You will need courage to speak up. Some of the questions may be perceived as rude to the management. So you can tweak them in such a way that you can’t be said to be an annoyance. You can ask ‘what are the objectives for the welfare of our fellow employees in light of this ‘smart sizing’?’ or ‘does this mean that the company is running into losses and since when?’. Regardless of the answer by your manager, you bring forth your point of justice and welfare so that they take note that there are people who can think for themselves. Also by asking these questions, even other people who are mentally asleep during such meetings are awoken to the reality of the situation.
In terms of national affairs, I maintain that you have a right to question what the government intends to do with border security, illegal immigrants, nuclear reactors, gun control etc. It’s not going to be possible that every time you have a question you can just dial the President or Prime Minister to get answers. However there are many peaceful ways to get your point across. You can use an online media campaign, handbills, town halls etc. Even approaching the relevant unions or lobby groups will help you. You will need to be clear on your questions and justification for them.
With all this being said, I’d like to remind you that Proverbs 18:17 works both ways. So you too must be ready for any cross-questioning done towards you. Usually this can happen in a family set up, where the spouse asks why such and such thing was said by you. Here the emphasis by you should be to be honest, calm and friendly while trying to clear the air on your actions or words. Even at church or work, you can answer back any questions directed towards you without having to compromise on the truth and avoid all undue anger. Not everyone will like your answer but you must speak what is right in the eyes of God.
Legalism is a fake version of righteousness. It affects men, women and children in various forms from the cradle to the grave. Even preachers entertain this without realizing the dangers of it.
First things first, legalism is not the same thing as righteous living, praying methods, living by faith, obedience to God’s will, desire for purity and genuineness in one’s relationship with God. The Bible doesn’t promote legalism. Legalism is not be confused with following the teachings of the Gospel. At this point its imperative to get a clear idea of what is legalism. Let’s start with the dictionary meaning:
Legalism : strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code ( Merriam-Webster online dictionary)
Now in Christianity legalism is the excessive and improper use of the law. By excessive, it means overzealous following of the laws of God while not giving glory to God. It can also promote self-righteousness as it makes a person focus more on self than the Lord.
By improper usage, it means that it stealthily becomes a ‘earn your salvation‘ technique instead of getting your salvation truly and freely from Jesus our Lord. This can make you very unsure of your salvation and thereby keep you dependent on the church authority structure to say whether are you saved or not. It’s good to obey church leaders but you must keep it balanced in the light of the Gospel.
During the course of my life I was unwittingly taught legalism though I didn’t understand it at that time. However, after a few years I realized that is an energy drainer. This affected my relationship with God and I was not sure of my salvation. So decided to re-learn the teachings of the Bible directly by myself and praying to the Holy Spirit to lead me. It’s a big relief to be out of it and be sure of one’s salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.
Legalism can happen in non religious settings such as work or college. Since, I’m speaking of legalism in a spiritual context, I will give you a few examples of how things can go legalistic in the religious world. Here we go:
- Lydia is trying to make ends meet for her little child. Her husband is working but is not getting enough due to the bad economy. So she decides to do part-time work as a nurse to supplement their income due to which she misses on a few church services. She is worried that her actions have jeopardized her salvation and keeps crying out. This continues until a preacher convinces her of true salvation and helps her with the timings of a church that has worship services all through the week.
- James is taught to always wear a tie to any church service as every man in church who doesn’t wear it is seen as not sincere about salvation. He keeps doing this regularly. One day he forgets to wear a tie and enters the church. He is then denounced by everyone in the church and eventually leaves it. He then enters another church where there is no requirement to wear a tie (to his pleasant surprise) and continues to go there regularly. (the first 2 examples are just indicative examples, the next one is a real one)
- I would attend a place of prayer where people got healed by the power of Christ. However, the preachers in the due course of time started acting legalistic and would say the following statements, “If you have AIDS or HIV its God’s Gift to you for sinning and God will NOT heal you” and would also say “I sense God is healing some person of this and this disease but I say to this person, come up and testify on the stage right now or you will LOSE your healing”. I was totally horrified at this legalism and started avoiding them lest I too learn their ways. As time passed by, many people stopped going to this place and started going to other places to get prayed over. However, the preachers over there are still adamant on their ‘God hates people with AIDS’ stance. (I mentioned this example in my earlier post; Learn to understand what comes from God and what comes from man)
A very sure way to realize legalism is at work is when things are added or removed from the actual wisdom and practices mentioned in the Bible. Basically these are rules of men and not of God.
This make me recall the words of a wise preacher, ‘The farther away from God you get, the more rules and regulations you’ll come up with in an effort to maintain what you once had. And what was once living will soon become mechanical and artificial. (Take the machinery out of the church.)’ No wonder, I say that your righteousness must come from Christ. alone. You must have the right attitude of the heart, not just good external actions.
Here are few scriptures on what the Bible speak about Legalism:
Isaiah 1:11 “The multitude of your sacrifices– what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 23:1-4 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Some videos on the reality of legalism. These make good sense, so are worth a watch as well.
Jesus had a lot to say about Satan. It’s strange that in some Christian circles the preachers and the congregations don’t want to hear about Satan nor his wicked plans when Jesus himself was highly critical of the eternally condemned liar. I find it odd and tragic in equal measure that certain people want to speak that Jesus is victorious but don’t want to mention whom he was victorious against. This brings to my mind the words of 2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Some people want a ‘customized’ gospel as per their own hearts desires and they find preachers who are willing to ‘tweak’ the gospel for them. By reading 2 Timothy 4:3-4 we are already forewarned about this and must accept the entire teachings of the Bible and not just bits and pieces of it. About such deceived people, may the good Lord Jesus open their eyes before its too late for them. Amen.
Now here’s what Jesus said about Satan. I’ll put a (sub) header or explanation about the context for each of his words about Satan for the sake of clarity. Read on:
On the Jews rejecting Jesus as Messiah but still claiming eternal security by being descendants of Abraham.
John 8:4 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Jesus compares Satan to a murdering thief.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus explained the parable of the sower (Matthew 13: 1-23) and compared Satan to the seed eating birds.
Matthew 13:19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.
Jesus explained the parable of the weeds (Matthew 13: 24-29 and 36-43) and called Satan as the enemy.
He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.
When Peter advised Jesus against the will of God.
Matthew 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
When the disciples were amazed that they could cast off demons in Jesus’ name.
Luke 10:17-20 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus spoke to Simon Peter on how Satan wanted to claim Simon Peter for eternity but Jesus prayed against it.
Luke 22:31-33 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
Jesus clarified that he doesn’t need Satan’s nor his henchman Beelzebub’s assistance to cast out demons.
Matthew 12:22-27 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub,by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
Jesus mentioned that the lake of fire at the Final Judgement (Matthew 25:31-46) has been prepared for Satan and his angels and unbelievers too share in it.
Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
By reading this, I hope and pray that you don’t take the great deceiver of the world ie the Devil lightly and instead trust Jesus forever. May the the light of Christ always shine in your life. Amen.
What are we supposed to hold most closest to heart when we hear or think of the gospel? Is it gospel values or the Lord of the gospel?
I strongly say it should be the Lord of the gospel who is Jesus himself. Because looking only on gospel values but not on Jesus opens doors to deception. The Pharisees during Jesus’ time on earth were so law centered that they refused to acknowledge Jesus as their messiah and Lord. The same shouldn’t happen with us being value centered instead of being Jesus centered.
Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)
Just because you are inspired by faith and do great miracles doesn’t mean it was all you. The devil tempts people who do miracles in Jesus’ name by telling them how special they are compared to others who are lesser beings than yourself. This a temptation of pride in onself rather than trust in God. The way to banish this thought is to realize that both miracles and faith come due to Jesus and not your own merits. So look to the real source which is Christ and not you. No wonder the Bible gives love more importantance than faith.
Love is the greatest value as per the scriptures. But love by itself as a value is just another door to deception. You needs to love in the right direction and the right person. You can either love God or love money but never both. You want to work overtime so that you can provide for your family whom you love. That’s great go for it but don’t miss your prayers to Christ. Because Jesus gives you the ability to become wealthy doesn’t mean you value the gift more than the giver.
Hoping and praying for a wonderful voice to sing is nice. But make sure you sing positive stuff at concerts and events. Hoping for a trip to the Canary islands is good but remember being in the presence of the Lord is far more greater. It’s just that we use our physical eyes more frequently that we need to take sight things that are eternal and unseen.
Peacefulness is highly prized value. Too much focus on peace is bad. You can’t be all ears to a person telling you vulgar jokes. You can’t play the peaceful listener to all. Listen peacefully to wisdom but walk away from foolish sinful talk even if it offends the speaker of vile words. Peace with God is more important than peace with men and women.
Some people cherry pick gospel values that suit their political or intellectual agenda. The most preferred pick is freedom. So a few verses are picked to gain the Christian people’s support for so and so persons right to freedom. I’m for freedom but please do include freedom to worship and freedom from sin as well.
I’m totally against racism, sexism and slavery but I see people try to promote democracy as a guarantee to lasting freedom on basis of bible verses about freedom. Don’t get carried away my friend, democracy is beneficial to some extent but limited by human weakness. People end up voting for the wrong leaders. Good leaders grow old and retire. Jesus is Lord forever and his kingdom shall never end in this life or in the next. How do we realize this? By reading the Bible trying to imitate Christ. This way we keep focused on the big picture instead of small strokes on it.
So do believe in every principle of the Bible but most importantly believe in Jesus always.