Everyone, Christian or non-Christian, has to deal with a multitude of negative issues throughout the course of a life time. This is not a possibility, this is reality, spiritual reality. Overall the reason for this is very simple and easy to understand, but the vast majority of people reject the real reason preferring to move with a self manufactured mythology that allows for self induced pity parties and hate-fests toward others who are easy to blame.
If people were to accept the real reason behind the negative situations and persecution people encounter then they would also have to consider the solution that is given to overcome these negative situations. Pity parties could be eliminated. Hatred of other individuals or groups, founded upon spiritual ignorance, could be defeated with godly knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
In psychology there is a thing called the martyr complex, sometimes called the victim complex. It is a mindset that conforms to the feelings of being oppressed, a mindset that embraces suffering, hardship, and persecution so as to assign failures and short-comings to another group that stands in opposition, or at least, appears to stand in opposition. Segan's Medical Dictionary defines the martyr complex as, "A condition in which a person uses their suffering, self-sacrifice, and role as a victim to manipulate others into psychologically rewarding them for their ongoing misery." In other words, "you owe me!", because I've tried so hard, and I've had a difficult time, and everyone is against me.
For the natural man, when the adulation and sympathy of others isn't sufficiently bestowed or expressed, anger and fury are sure to follow. This will produce chaos, confusion, and misery for all who are in the martyr's path, as the walk of martyrdom transcends into acts of persecution and violence. The only solution for the natural man is to become a Christian and gain an accurate spiritual knowledge and understanding. Otherwise, the darkness that surrounds him will eventually envelop his mind, until the darkness without extinguishes any light within, thus he moves in harmony with the world that he cries against.
For a segment of carnal, or religious, Christianity the martyr complex leads to anger and blame which are often misdirected toward God because He has not responded as the martyr determined He should. Where is the blessing? Where is the relief? Where is the reward for all of "my" hard work?
However, a larger segment of carnal Christianity move with the ultimate in the martyr complex by embracing their troubles as though it is of Divine origin. It is their God who troubles them and tests them. It is their God who has arranged for their pain and suffering, so that through pain and suffering they may demonstrate to the world that their God is "loving". The solution for these people, like the natural man, is also to gain an accurate spiritual knowledge of the Word of God.
I want to handle this "martyr complex" by asking and answering three questions. Since we are still dealing with the back story to Acts 28 it should be understood that these questions will be handled from the perspective of Christianity in light of the life of the Apostle Paul. Although the connection to the Apostle Paul will not be evident until we arrive at the answer to the third question.
First, why is the world filled with so many negatives? We have news programs that run twenty-four hours a day just to keep up with all of the negatives that occur daily. Why, if we are as enlightened and benevolent as we like to think, is there so much hatred and prejudice in this world?
In 1673 Samuel von Pufendorf wrote, "Man's inhumanity (to man) has been done by man himself (more) than any other of nature's causes." Are we the main source of all of our problems? Dr. James Lovelock, referred to as the Godfather of Global Warming, thinks mankind is a virus that has infected the planet. Speaking of the planet Dr. Lovelock says, "It is infected by a virus called Homo sapiens."
Second, why do we always find another group to blame for our troubles? Is it always about race, gender, finances, sexual preferences, moral choices, the environment, and religious prerogatives. Do others really hate you because you are different? Are other groups responsible for the persecution and distress we experience?
Thirdly, is there a solution or an answer to overcoming all the negatives, and all of the persecution, and all of the hatred, and all of the division? Is that answer to fight? Do we need to eliminate all who are different from ourselves? Do we need to hide in our own little enclaves so that we can have some semblance of a peace? Or do we simply need to surrender to the hatred and learn to compromise and endure?
Let's begin with the short answers to these questions.
First, the Devil is the source of all the negatives and persecution in this world. He is the personal enemy of every man, woman, and child who draws breath. He wants you fighting each other and he wants you dead! It isn't specifically about you, the Devil hates everyone.
Second, the Devil manages to stay hidden behind the scenes and thus we blame what we can see. People become his proxies and surrogates through ignorance, or misguided zeal, or others who literally have chosen to stand with him.
Thirdly, the only solution is godliness, your personal spiritual relationship with God. Dealing with the Devil, your adversary in life, is a spiritual matter and therefore must be dealt with by spiritual means. A person must either come to God and His Word or he will continue to get pushed around by the Devil and his proxies and surrogates throughout his life.
Spiritual victory comes with godly knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The short answers begin to provide knowledge. Now the long answers will provide more knowledge with wisdom and understanding added.
The First Question
First, all of the negatives, the persecution, the hate, and the killing comes from God's enemy, otherwise known as the Devil. Things the world refers to as "devilish" do have a specific source, it's not just a quaint way to speak of something gone bad. The Devil is not simply a symbol for things we deem to be bad or evil.
Every Christian must realize and understand that he/she has a personal enemy in the Devil. He isn't a cartoon character dressed in a red suit, with horns, holding a pitch fork, while waging his pointed tail like a puppy dog. He isn't a myth or fairy tale made up to scare little children into obeying the rules or provide a little "fun" during Halloween.
He is a fallen angel who is sharp, crafty, and very powerful. He makes himself appear as an angel of Light or he works at making himself disappear into the shadows. An understanding of the difference between the Devil and Satan would provide further, and needful, insight but that will have to be left for another teaching on another day.
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world (read the Devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
If you are a Christian, taught by mainstream Christianity, then you are already rejecting this thought. To call the Devil the god of this world is to make him equal with God, or so the wrong doctrine proclaims. You have been taught that God is Sovereign, which is an accurate teaching, but inaccurately applied due to not understanding the true nature of God, or having an accurate scope of God's Word.
The mainstream Christian view of a Sovereign God means He is in control of all things at all times. Therefore, mainstream Christian logic must make excuses and rationalize God killing innocent children, destroying helpless communities, punishing only some of the bad guys while allowing others to continue to rape, and pillage, and plunder at their discretion. Although they have had almost two thousand years to perfect this logic, it still falls far short of sanity and godly understanding.
If God, as Sovereign, simply chose to do what He wanted, when He wanted, regardless of what He had previously stated, then He would not be a God that is worthy of worship and praise. If He is a God that changes on a whim, or arbitrarily acts without regard to His own testimony of Himself, then His words are false and untrustworthy, and His covenants are meaningless.
We have all heard it said, "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should." Man can alter the genetic code of a seed, it doesn't mean he should. Man can clone humans, it doesn't mean he should. Man can build bigger and more destructive bombs, it doesn't mean he should. Unlike man, with God all things are possible because He is all powerful and could do anything He wanted to do. Yes, God is Sovereign but God must be true to His nature, true to His character, and above all, true to His Word. Therefore God exercises discipline over Himself by obeying what He Himself has declared.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
God gave to man dominion of the earth and everything on the earth. The Hebrew word translated "dominion" is radah and means to rule, have authority over, subjugate, dominate. The earth was under the rule and authority of Adam. Nothing on the earth was more powerful or had more authority than Adam.
Every entity, whether spiritual or natural, answers to someone or something. There is a pecking order, a hierarchy, a chain of command to every aspect and facet of life on planet earth or in heaven above. Concerning angels, there is an angel called an archangel, one who is in charge. Yet even the archangel answers to God Almighty.
With the earth, the soil answers to the seed when it is planted and nourished. The field mouse answers to the hawk who is seeking food. Our planet answers to gravity as it stretches forth its powerful hand from the sun. The only exception to this universal law of authority is God Himself. God is the source of all power, and all authority, and all might, and all dominion, and as such answers only to Himself. Thus God is Sovereign over all. But that is not the conclusion of how God defines Himself.
God is also Just, keeping covenant and honoring all that He has said.
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
God conferred upon Adam authority and dominion over the entire earth and all of its inhabitants. God presented Adam with a gift and Adam re-gifted what God had given to him. Adam transferred that same authority and dominion to God's enemy, the Devil.
And the devil said unto him (Jesus), All this power (exousia, meaning authority) will I give thee, and the glory (doxa, meaning magnificence, splendor) of them (of all the kingdoms of the world from verse five): for that is delivered (paradidomi, meaning to give over to one's power for use, to surrender) unto me (The Devil); and to whomsoever (anyone, complete authority) I will I give it.
God conferred upon Adam the authority to rule the entire planet and Adam surrendered that same authority of ruler ship into the hands of God's enemy. Therefore God's enemy had the right to offer this authority and glory to Jesus Christ as he stated in Luke chapter 4.
The Devil said "give" the authority and glory to Jesus Christ but it was a lie Jesus Christ saw through immediately. It is a lie because of the law of service as stated in Romans 6.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield (paristemi - to set or place yourself along side of) yourselves servants (doulos - a bondslave by freewill decision) to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Adam agreed, out of his freedom of will, to be the servant of the Devil by his deliberate decision to obey the directions of the Devil in the Garden of Eden. Thus Adam, under the law of service places himself and all that he has, including his authority and dominion, under the authority of the Devil.
During the temptation of Jesus Christ the Devil was not agreeing to obey Jesus rather he wanted Jesus to obey him. Thus the Devil would have retained his authority over the earth as "the god of this world". Saying the Devil would "give" his authority to Jesus is a lie that Jesus Christ saw through immediately.
God conferred power and authority to Adam. Adam transferred that power and authority to the Devil. Since God is a God of Justice He could not simply take away what Adam had legally transferred to the Devil.
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Melchizedek, king of Salem which is modern day Jerusalem, declared God's blessing to Abraham (Abram). When making this declaration Melchizedek described God as the "possessor" of heaven and earth. The word translated "possessor" is the Hebrew word qanah and should be translated redeemer.
God needed to redeem the earth from the hand of the Devil because Adam had legally transferred his authority to the Devil under the law of service. This shows us the Justice of God and the authority of the Devil here upon earth.
Yet, in His Sovereignty God could have simply taken the earth back from the Devil. Yes, He had the power, He had the ability, He could have simply taken the authority and dominion away from the Devil. But because God is Just He would not simply take the authority and dominion back to Himself. Simply because He could do it, didn't mean He should.
God is Just across the board. He isn't Just when He feels like it. He isn't Just when it is convenient. It is the nature of God to always be Just. In all situations, no matter what the circumstances, God is Just. Therefore, God is Just even to the Devil.
Since Adam legally transferred the authority and dominion to the Devil the Justice of God had to allow the transfer to take place. Yet God did not abandon mankind for He is not only Just, He is also loving, and merciful, and gracious. It is in God's love, and mercy, and grace that He presented to mankind a means by which man could step out from under the legal authority of the Devil and place himself once again under the Sovereignty of God. Understanding the difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven would add greatly to a person's spiritual awareness in this area. But that also is another teaching for another day.
God instructed mankind in the law of believing. Mostly, when Christians think of the laws of God they fail to go beyond the Ten Commandments. Yet God has set many laws in place and He honors all of them.
The law of authority is a natural law. The law of service is a natural law. The law of gravity is a natural law. All are God ordained laws. The law of believing is a spiritual law. Spiritual law supersedes natural law. What do I mean by spiritual law supersedes natural law? An iron axe swimming to the surface in water is due to the spiritual law of believing. Walking without having ankle bones moments before is the spiritual law of believing. Saying unto a mountain, "go jump in the ocean" is the spiritual law of believing. The law of believing is a spiritual law and spiritual law supersedes natural law.
So what exactly does this mean? It means that according to the natural law of gravity, under the principle of buoyancy, the iron should sink in water because it is more dense than the water. But the spiritual law of believing is greater than natural law. The spiritual law of believing is based entirely upon the promises or statements of God. In like manner, the natural law of authority that the Devil exercises over the earth is superseded when a child of God exercises the law of believing in light of the promises of God.
As the god of this world the Devil has set up the world system along the lines of his heart and his desires. As God is Light, the Devil is darkness. As God is Good, the Devil is evil. As God is Love, the Devil is fear. As God is Life, the Devil is death. As God is Gracious, the Devil is a thief. As God is Merciful, the Devil is harsh and condemning. As God is order, the Devil is confusion. As God speaks only Truth, the Devil speaks only lies.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
This is the one to whom Adam legally gave control of the earth.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Here stands the contrast of what the Devil has given this world and what God has given to the world through His son Jesus Christ.
From where do we receive all of the negatives in this world? Who has brought us hate, and murder, and stealing, and destruction? Who instigates all persecution, harassment, mistreatment, and human suffering in this world? Who orchestrates famines, pestilence, earthquakes, and all natural disasters? The answer is the god of this world, the Devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
The Devil has developed and continues to orchestrate the system of the world. The way of the world is the way of the Devil; his logic, his greed, his egotism, his hate, his lies, his darkness permeating every aspect, and every facet, of every corner of his kingdom.
1 John 2:15-17
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Those who have aligned themselves with the world, and the logic of the world, are those, whether ignorantly or intentionally, who carry forth the gospel according to the Devil. They promote his ethic and his manner of existence, we can't call it life since there is no life in him.
The Devil is the disease, the virus that infects our planet. Those who stand with him are the carriers that circle the globe to bring pain, suffering, and death to all who will walk according to his will.
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
In Genesis 3 God informed Adam that the earth was now cursed. The earth is cursed because it has a new landlord and he is complete evil. Thorns and thistles have come forth to choke the life out of herb and fruit bearing plants placed here by God to nourish man. A gentle breeze originally designed to cool and refresh can now become a hurricane or a tornado. Underground aquifers available to provide man with an unending supply of fresh water became a flood upon the surface of the earth, aiding the destruction of all but Noah and his family.
Because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
It is only spiritual ignorance of God's Word that ensnares us, so that we fail to recognize the legal authority and dominion the Devil currently has, not only over mankind, but also of our planet.
Often it has been said that Christianity needs to come into the twenty-first century, meaning Christians are superstitious, weak minded people that rely upon an unseen "God" as a crutch to get through life. Actually, almost the complete opposite is the Truth.
It is the person with a twenty-first century logic and knowledge that needs to step back into the reality of the spiritual contest and battle that surrounds every living person upon this planet. To think that our twenty-first century humanism will overcome and defeat the Devil in his spiritual deceitfulness and snares is akin to believing the Devil is a giant marshmallow and Ghostbusters have the situation well in hand.
Genuine Christianity has the solution in three simple words, "I believe God." Or as Jesus Christ said it, "It is written."
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:…
That answers our first question more fully.
The Second Question
Second, we blame others because we look at the things which are seen and the Devil is an expert at not being seen. Organizations, groups, and individuals are easily seen and thus, easily blamed. Why are people so easy to blame? The simple answer is that the Devil has covered his tracks and hidden his movements.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
The Devil covers his movements by putting on a false face of righteousness and using proxies and surrogates to carry his message of deceit and lies. Due to a lack of spiritual insight and understanding on the part of those who are God's people the Devil was successful in hiding his existence in the Old Testament. But Jesus Christ came and exposed the hiding place of the Devil so that all could see him.
And having spoiled principalities and powers (the spiritual rulers of this world), he (Jesus Christ) made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Jesus Christ made known the spiritual side of life. He pulled back the current and the wizard has been shown for what he really is; a fraud, a liar, a thief, a murderer, and powerless when faced with the awesome power of Almighty God.
For the last two thousand years the Devil has gone about to once again cover his tracks. Like organized crime he uses shell companies and honest organizations to cover his ulterior motives. His motives? To turn our focus away from God. Getting us to elevate and worship money, power, and position. Although some will chase after these with vigor, his greatest success has been to use legitimate causes like poverty, world hunger, injustice, false religion, and the environment to turn people away from the first and great commandment which is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
People get excited about hugging a tree and are praised globally for their insight and foresight. But you are considered strange, and even dangerous, if you want to embrace God. The Devil's logic has perverted and corrupted our minds from a right way of thinking.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature (creation) more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Men reject God in favor of worshipping His creation. Dr. James Lovelock, the godfather of global warming, says of the current environmental movement, "It's become a religion, and religions don't worry too much about facts." More accurately stated, religions don't worry too much about Truth!
The Devil has managed in these modern times to connect all of the dots into one giant false religion of manmade supremacy while completely ignoring the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in them.
Friends of the Earth state in their commitment to anti-oppression, "We can only identify and respond to the role of power and privilege when we are conscious of how they operate. We are therefore committed to understanding how racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, religious discrimination and all others forms of oppression affect and implicate each of us. We understand that the ways we interact with the environment and the burden of pollution we bear are closely tied to class, race, gender, age and other forms of identity."
It is one of the Devil's oldest traps and snare, the simplicity of divide and conquer. Surely there is another person or group out there that is responsible for our misery and discomfort.
In all of the rhetoric from all of the different groups there is not one word concerning the part the Devil plays in the systematic misery, enslavement, or destruction of the planet. Even papal encyclicals seem to have forgotten the god of this world and the part he plays as the one with the authority and dominion. Rather all charges are laid at the feet of men, at companies, at governments, entities that are seen, entities that can be blamed while once again the Devil sits in the background; out of sight, out of mind.
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Elymas was a child of the Devil. Yes, there are legitimate, legal children of the Devil but that also is another teaching for another day.
They are the enemy of all that is righteous. They are subtle, crafty, and cunning. They never stopped working to turn someone away from the right way of believing. Notice Elymas was "with" the deputy of the country, he was not the deputy. He was behind the scene, he was the wizard behind the current.
The Devil uses his children, like Elymas, to promote his thoughts and his motives. The Devil uses his children to introduce his desires to a world of unsuspecting and gullible people. Why are we gullible? We are gullible because we have been left spiritually ignorant because mainstream Christianity has been infatuated, almost to the point of obsession, with the so-called church fathers. In following these "fathers" modern Christianity, like the Pharisees of old, have taught for doctrine the commandments of men.
Augustine, in his Confessions, states, "I sought the source of evil, and I found no explanation." If Augustine found no explanation it is because he failed to consult the words of God verses the words of men, or his own insight and comprehension.
2 Corinthians 2:11
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
It's hard for Christianity to be aware of Satan's devices when most of Christianity doesn't even acknowledge the existence of the adversary! The Greek word translated "devices" is nomea and means the result of thinking. It isn't the thinking itself, but rather the result of what the Devil thinks. Christians are not to be ignorant of what the Devil intends, his goals, his purpose, his methods.
Others, who are not children of the Devil, simply believe the lies put forth by a child of the Devil, an Elymas, and then communicate those concepts as the way to have a fuller or more complete life. Maybe those concepts will speak of our care for the rights of others and how we should riot, loot, destroy, and even kill to demonstrate our care and concern. Perhaps those concepts will show us the error of our ways in standing with the words of the Bible verses a more enlightened approach as we embark into the twenty-first century. Perhaps those concepts will speak of building a utopia upon earth were all men are equal, and fed, and housed, and live in peace. Yet such concepts cannot exist if we believe the Truth of God's words and see the reality of the spiritual authority of the fallen angel known as the Devil. Such concepts will come to pass but it is God that will bring it to pass, not humanity. In the Third Heaven and Earth, that is still future, only righteousness will dwell.
It was only the other day when I heard a Christian minister teach that God's love in my heart must allow God to advance another at my expense. This is devilish ignorance of God and His Word! God has never advanced one at the expense of another. God's will is for all to advance and prosper. This "minister" was teaching a device of the Devil while dressing it up as a godly principle.
Another spoke of the miracle of birth, the miracle of composing a symphony, and the miracle of simply having a thought. God defines a miracle as something that is supernatural. Birth is natural, having a thought is natural, composing a symphony is natural. We are being destroyed for a lack of an accurate knowledge of our God and His enemy.
The Devil succeeds because we are ignorant and he stays hidden.
2 Corinthian 11:3
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Eve was beguiled, she was deceived.
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
God put Adam in the Garden to dress it and keep it. God gave Adam the directions concerning the trees of the Garden. Then God made Adam a help meet. It was Adam who gave Eve the directions concerning the trees. Eve did not receive those directions from God Himself.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
Again, it is stated "I (God) commanded thee (Adam)" concerning the trees. Eve learned from Adam and the Devil questioned not what God had said but what Adam had communicated to her concerning God's Word and Will. The Devil doesn't start people off by getting them to question God, the Devil gets people to question other people.
Adam didn't see the Devil. Adam didn't face the Devil. Adam saw Eve. Adam acted upon the words of Eve. But Eve's words were the words of the Devil and thus, under the law of service, Adam obeyed the Devil, denying the words of God. The Devil puts layers between himself and his concepts. The layers consist of people, people that can be blamed.
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
They look different, they think differently, they don't dress the same, they have more material things than I have, does that person really have my best interests at heart; the problem therefore must be these other people. It is a slow, but deliberate, subtle seduction taking people further and further away from the will of God. It is a slow, subtle seduction that sets other groups and individuals up to be blamed.
As in the temptation of Jesus Christ the changes the Devil presented were subtle but very much anti-God. God had told Jesus Christ that if he accomplished all that God had asked of him that he would reign as King of kings and Lord of lords for all of eternity. The Devil offered Jesus a more immediate approach, worship me and I will give you all of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. The Devil said, "my way is easier, no suffering and death, and quicker, you can have these things now." Jesus Christ answered, "It is written." If we do not know what is written, we cannot succeed spiritually. If we do not believe what is written, we will fail spiritually.
The Devil, using his children as proxies, has introduced all of the thoughts, ideas, and logic that is contrary to the Word and Will of God. Then other people, being used as surrogates, communicate these thoughts, ideas, and logic as truth because they are ignorant of the Word and Will of God.
People don't think they are fighting against God because they are focused on other people. People don't think they are standing with God's enemy because he stays hidden in the background. As it is said, "Out of sight, out of mind."
2 Timothy 2:24-26
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
I've been with people who earned their living running a trap line. I've seen them set their snares and traps to capture animals. Do you want to know the great secret to having a successful trap line? Traps and snares are first set in the habitat of the animal, in his familiar surroundings. Then you hide the trap or the snare and cover your tracks and your scent.
The natural man cannot see the Devil and he cannot see his snares for they are spiritually discerned. The Christian has the ability to see the methods of the Devil, and to recognize his snares but too often the Christian is spiritually ignorant.
Those who do not acknowledge the existence of the Devil will never see his snares. They will only see the person who disagrees with them and that person, that group, that organization then becomes their enemy. Those who acknowledge the existence of the Devil but have never learned to discern his methods, the secrecy of his moves behind his proxies and surrogates simply become more of his surrogates, beguiled like Eve.
God has told us to steward His planet, He never told us to "save" it. I'm not big enough to "save" the planet from the rule of the Devil. To spend my days trying to do so will turn me from God as I focus on all the ills of those who do not steward the planet. Other men become my enemy. Frustration becomes my daily routine. Then anger will become my new method of operation to accomplish my goal of "saving" the planet. Simply stated, genuine concern turns into martyrdom, then into persecutor, otherwise known as an activist.
Genesis 3 declared that the planet is now cursed. It is cursed because of who currently rules the planet. God will overcome the current ruler and the curse. That is the Truth. The careless oil company, the unthinking litterbug, are simply surrogates. The enemy is the Devil behind the scenes.
God has told us we are all of one blood, and our skin simply holds it inside. The Devil has taught us that blood isn't the issue, it's the color of the skin. Who's right?
Our government makes laws that are contrary to the Word of God. Some churches respond by demanding laws that protect the Word of God. There has been only one government set up by God and that is the Nation of Israel. It didn't turn out so well because its leadership were imperfect men. It is Light that dispels darkness, not a new set of regulations from the government. Faith, or the right way of believing, comes from hearing the Word of God, not from a new statute passed by the legislature.
The two aspects to the great success the Devil has enjoyed through the centuries are; first, he has gotten Christianity to question the integrity of the Word of God and second, he has managed to keep himself hidden from the world by working through proxies and surrogates.
The goal of the Devil is to get us to take our eyes off of God and His Word and to set our focus on the things of this world that he has deemed should be important to us. Environmental, religious, racial, gender oriented, fiscal differences, governmental hypocrisy, pick any subject and the Devil has the means and the methods to divide us and get us at each other's throat. For there will always be someone, or a group of people, who are on the opposite side of any issue or point of discussion. When we refuse to look at the spiritual and focus instead on the carnal, all we have left is to blame others who think differently, or look differently, or speak differently.
God has communicated many things to mankind that we have allowed the Devil to turn into a snare and a trap. Too often we are the Sergius Paulus with an Elymas sitting nearby to twist and contort the Truth of God. We all have a need for someone like the Apostle Paul, to confront the darkness, to expose the snare, to declare the Truth.
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
These are the words Jesus Christ spoken to the Apostle Paul as he travelled to Damascus with the intent of persecuting those who believed differently than himself. We need to open our eyes, we need to turn on the Light because hiding in that darkness is the real enemy, his name is the Devil.
That answers our second question more fully.
The Third Question
Thirdly, the solution is explained in one word, godliness. A Christian will develop godliness as he knows the words of God and as he walks by the spirit of God. For God has already, through the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, defeated the Devil and all of his ways, which includes all forms of persecution, tribulation, and distress.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Everything that ensnares mankind was led captive by Jesus Christ. We have the ability to no longer get caught in the snare or trap of the Devil.
Any further discussion over racism, gender gap, homosexual relationships, income inequality, the environment or anything else is ended because that is all part of the smoke screen that hides the Devil and his goal to divide and conquer. We are in a spiritual battle, a spiritual contest between God and the Devil and the Christian has already chosen a side in this confrontation. Now it's time for the Christian to ACT like he stands along side of God.
Godliness, in the Administration of Grace, has two very important aspects to it. First, a person must have God's gift of holy spirit created within. Second, a person must develop a personal relationship with God and that is accomplished through knowing God's Word.
If you have memorized verses of scripture but fail to walk according to the spirit within, you will have a rigid religion tending to legalism. If you try to walk by the spirit but never go to God's Word to see and know His heart, then you will simply have a walk based on emotions and feelings tending to license. To see God's heart in His Word, to hear God's voice in your spirit requires a personal relationship.
For example, what exactly is a martyr in the eyes of God? Is a martyr someone who gives his life to be killed by an unbeliever? Is a martyr one who is pushed around, beaten, and abused by those who despise God? Or is a martyr something else in the eyes of God? For the answer we must understand how God uses the Greek word martus in His Word.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
The subject matter is a problem between individuals. The first thing to do is to go to him and explain your grievance, if he hears you than the situation is resolved. But if this face to face meeting doesn't work, God gives a second step.
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses (martus) every word may be established.
When the problem isn't solved one on one, you are to take the problem before one, two or more witnesses, or a martyr. Are these people you have asked to get involved expecting to suffer or even die! These witnesses are expected to testify pertaining to what takes place between the two people having a problem, they aren't expecting to die.
According to Christian mythology, as unbelievers were about to burn him at the stake, Polycarp, early to mid-first century Christian, prayed these words to God, "I bless you that you have thought me worthy of this day and hour, to be numbered among the martyrs and share in the cup of Christ,…I may be accepted before you today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice,…"
What is the witness given by a child of God when God's enemy succeeds in killing that child? In what way is God glorified by one of His children being murdered? Does God consider the death of one of His children a worthy thing?
Yes, God asked Jesus Christ to die. God asked him to die so the rest of us wouldn't have to die. God asked Jesus Christ to die in my place. God asked Jesus Christ to allow the Devil to kill him so that all who believe would live. The death of Jesus Christ is the only death that has ever had any merit or any worthiness.
1 Corinthians 15:26
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
God calls death an enemy! Why then would we embrace it? God declares in Hebrews that the Devil has the power of death and that Jesus Christ came to defeat him. In the second letter to Timothy God declares that Jesus Christ has abolished death. How then can a Christian view death as a good thing or a godly thing?
A child of God is a witness when they are alive and walking in fellowship with God, not when they are dead. When a believer dies, there is silence. When a believer is silent only God's enemy rejoices for it is one less person to proclaim and speak of what God accomplished for all of mankind in the work of His beloved son Jesus Christ.
So how did we come to the place in Christianity that a martyr is one who suffers and dies? Then, taking it further, how did this wrong version of a martyr, one who dies for God, become not only a good thing but something to be desired?
Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch in Syria, the original headquarters of the Apostle Paul, was killed by the Roman Emperor Trajan around 107 A.D. While under arrest and awaiting his execution he wrote letters back to Antioch in which he proclaimed the glorious privilege of being a Christian martyr. Ignatius referred to his coming execution as his real birth and a glory to be grasp with joy.
For the last nineteen hundred years we have been led astray because we have followed the words of men rather than the words of God. We have come to this erroneous place by trusting the words of men while neglecting the words of God.
Because mainstream Christianity has followed the wrong doctrine pertaining to a martyr Christians have become weak and timid when faced with the boldness of the Devil's proxies and surrogates.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear (timidity); but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
"Sound mind" could be translated whole thoughts or sane thoughts. Christians are the ones who are sane because we have the words of God. Be a real witness! Follow the words of the angel to Peter early in the book of Acts, "Go, stand, and speak". There is no need for us to be timid, God has given His children power.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
It seems many Christians have only read verse thirty-six, "we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Therefore we must be looking for tribulation, distress, persecution and these other things because we are lowly sheep and the Devil is a roaring lion looking to devour us as stated in Peter.
Do you realize this is the only verse in the Church Epistles, given to the Apostle Paul, that identifies a child of God in the Administration of Grace as a sheep? Do you know why this is the only time believers in the Grace Administration are referred to as sheep? The answer is in the next verse.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
"We are more than conquerors" is translated from one Greek word, hupernikao which means super conquerors or super victorious. In all tribulation we are super conquerors. In all distress we are super conquerors. In all persecution we are super conquerors. In all famine we are super conquerors. We are super conquerors because of what God accomplished for us in his beloved son Jesus Christ.
We aren't sheep lead to the slaughter! God didn't ask any of us to die! God asked His only begotten to son to die so that we could live!
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
As in Adam all have condemnation and death, so in Christ all who believe God are justified and have life.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
"Present your bodies a LIVING sacrifice, holy, ACCEPTABLE unto God" this is our reasonable, or logical service.
The Greek word translated "present" is paristemi. It comes from two Greek words para and histemi. Para means "along side of" and histemi means "to set or to place." The first application of the doctrine just presented, in Romans 1 through 8, is to set yourself, to place yourself along side of God as a living sacrifice. This is acceptable to God. Did you just read that? THIS IS ACCEPTABLE TO GOD! The Greek word translated "acceptable" means well pleasing. It is well pleasing to God when you place yourself along side of Him. Why not? You are a child of God, where does a father want his children, always by his side.
How does a Christian place himself along side of God? A Christian places himself along side of God by being transformed by the renewing of his mind to the Word of God.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The acceptable sacrifice is to place yourself along side of God. This is accomplished by renewing the mind to God's Word. The word "prove" is dokimazo and was used by the Greeks to prove or test the genuineness of a coin. Here, it is used in reference to renewing the mind to know the genuine will of God, which is good, acceptable, and perfect.
When Joshua led the Nation of Israel into the Promised Land God had some special words for him.
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
"Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon", God put the next phrase in the past tense because as far as God was concerned the land already belonged to Israel because He had promised it to them through Abraham.
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
This was the prayer of the Apostle Paul as he opened his letter to the Ephesians. That we might have knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. That we might see what is the greatness of God's power to us who have believed.
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
How much power does it take to raise someone from the dead and give that person a new incorruptible body? That's the power God has working in His children because, as it is written in Colossians, it is Christ in you.
God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and set him above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named. That includes the names of the Devil. That includes the authority and dominion the Devil received from Adam. That includes all of the proxies and surrogates that knowingly or ignorantly stand with the Devil. Spiritual laws supersede natural laws.
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
God has placed all of the things from verses 22 and 23 under the feet of Christ and we, in the Administration of Grace, are the Church of the Body. If everything is under the feet of Christ and we are his Body, where does that place the Devil and all of his proxies and surrogates? Like Joshua walking into the Promised Land, everything of this world is under our feet.
Is that too say we won't encounter persecution, or face tribulation, or any of those other things? No, it simply says we are more powerful than the system of the Devil because we are with Christ and Christ defeat the Devil.
2 Timothy 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
There are those who are in this world who will not like, believe, or follow the words of God. These same people will move against all who endeavor to walk forth with God. But consider the previous verse.
2 Timothy 3:11
Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.
Paul faced and endured, meaning he didn't panic, he didn't question his own godliness, he didn't question the will or power of God and through all of the persecutions and afflictions the Lord delivered him.
2 Thessalonians 3:2
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
The word deliver means to rescue and it is in the passive voice, which means we aren't figuring out how we get delivered, we leave the deliverance up to God. That is way we want to place ourselves along side of God. We want to know his will in every situation and circumstance. When God says it is time to leave town, we want to take a little trip. When God says it's time to duck, we want to duck. When God says it isn't time to visit Jerusalem, we don't want to go to Jerusalem.
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
These believers weren't expressing their opinion, they were speaking for God by way of God's gift of holy spirit. But Paul was focused on other things and therefore didn't recognize the voice of God.
The Devil gets us to change our focus away from God. We look at evil men in the world and consider how to stop them. We see the destruction of our world and want to act to save the planet. We see prejudice and hatred and feel we must do something to right the wrongs. But we can do nothing of value unless it is under the direction of our Heavenly Father.
We praise and glorify men and women who have the energy of their conviction so that they are willing to die for their beliefs. Their conviction is indeed admirable but how much greater would such a life glorify God if it was still alive and walking forth in the power of God?
It was General George Patton who declared during World War II, "No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other bastard die for his country."
And in nothing terrified (pturo - frightened) by your adversaries (antikeimai - someone set against you): which is to them an evident token of perdition (apoleia - destruction), but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer (pascho - to be acted on from the outside, to experience, whether good or evil) for his sake (huper - on behalf of); Having the same conflict (agon - contest) which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
We are never frightened or intimidated by those who stand against us because we are standing along side of God. His Word is in our heart, His voice is in our ear, and that preparation is to our adversaries a sign of their destruction but to us it is our wholeness.
As Ambassadors for Christ, as stated in Corinthians, we stand in his stead in this world. Therefore we get to experience things, we are affected (pascho) by things outside of ourselves on behalf of the one we represent.
For I will shew him how great things he must (dei - inevitable) suffer (pascho - to be acted on from the outside, to experience whether good or evil) for (huper - on behalf of) my name's sake.
These words were spoken to Ananias concerning the Apostle Paul, by Jesus Christ. It is inevitable that Paul, like all believers, will be affected by things outside of themselves. Thayer says of pascho, "from Homer down; to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo - used in either a good or bad sense;"
Paul failed to hear the voice of God about going to Jerusalem and yes he endured some bad times because of his failure to obey. He was arrested; he was almost killed by the mob at the Temple; he was slapped around and almost torn apart by the Sanhedrin; forty men took a vow to kill him; he was shipwrecked; he spent four to five years of his life with another person holding the key to his locked door.
But it was also during this time that he was delivered from a venomous snake bite; he had the opportunity to raise Eutychus from the dead; he was filled with joy by the Philippians remembrance of him; he had the opportunity to minister to an island full of people and introduce a whole new area of the world to God's Word; he was able to freely speak God's Word, no man forbidding him, something that made Onesimus truly thankful.
Did Paul face and endure persecutions as he travelled through Cyprus, Galatia, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Corinth?
2 Corinthians 11:24-27
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
The Devil raised up many proxies and surrogates to stand against and endeavor to kill the Apostle Paul. But the Lord delivered him from the hand of the adversary again and again.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;
As Paul walked forth with God it was inevitable that he would experience things outside of himself on behalf of Christ. Some of the things were bad and some of the things were good. But he would have experienced none of these things if he had simply sat home in fear of persecution or tribulation. Had he believed the false doctrine of martyrdom, as the leadership in the second century, he never would have lived beyond Lystra.
And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
The Devil wanted to kill Paul from the opening of his ministry. But dying for God was not what he had been taught when he spoke with Jesus Christ.
And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness (martus) both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering (exaireo - to rescue) thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Jesus Christ told Paul he would deliver him from the people, meaning Israel, and the Gentiles. Yes, the Word of God is bigger and more important than any one man's life. It is worth giving up your life to serve God's Word to others. God wants us to give up our selfish life and become a living sacrifice, not a dead corpse. To this end God has given to us power, the same power that it took to raise Jesus Christ from the dead.
Faith, the right way of believing, comes by hearing the words of God. We give up our lives as a living sacrifice by renewing the mind to the words of God.
2 Corinthians 3:2-5
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
A living epistle written with the spirit of the living God. God's gift of holy spirit within, God's Word transforming the heart and placing us along side of our heavenly Father. We hear His voice. We know His will. We walk forth in a spiritual relationship with our heavenly Father.
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
It is God's Word that leads to godliness, it is godliness that will keep us one step ahead of the Devil and his proxies.
That answers our third question more fully.