Tag Archives: Sin

Sharpen Your Sword

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6:17)

Earlier this past week, my BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) group met to study Matthew 4, where the Gospel writer recounts Jesus’ temptation by Satan after He spent 40 days and 40 nights without food in the wilderness. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews states that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). In his first general epistle, the Apostle John lists three points whereby we are tempted: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.[1] We have evidence of this from the very beginning. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat…” (Genesis 3:6).

Matthew records that Satan tempted Jesus by the same means, albeit not in the same order.[2] The order of the temptations is not as relevant as the fact that the temptations are the same as those to which we succumb. Satan first came at Him with the lust of the flesh, “command that these stones be made bread.” [3] Next he tried tempting Him with the pride of life, “cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”[4] It behooves us to take note that Satan quoted Scripture[5] to Jesus, although it was misapplied. (We must take that as a lesson; knowledge of Scripture is not the path to salvation.) Finally, Satan went for the lust of the eyes. “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9). Satan is the “prince and god of this world;”[6] therefore, he had a legitimate right to make that claim.

Jesus did not take the bait. Jesus answered each temptation with a passage from Scripture. The Bible reminds us that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, emphasis mine). And do not think that because Jesus is God that He held a higher advantage. Satan attacked Jesus’ humanity, and He is every bit as human as you and I.

If Jesus had an advantage, it was His perfect knowledge of the Word of God, which brings me to the reason for the title of this article. Scripture often refers to the Word of God as a “sword.” Our leading verse (above) refers to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.” “For the word of God is quick [i.e., alive/living], and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword…” (Hebrews 4:12). In Revelation, the Word proceeding from Jesus’ mouth is described as a sword.[7]

The “sword” is the final piece of the Christian soldier’s armor.[8] All the pieces of the soldier’s armor are defensive in nature. They are designed to protect the wearer, but the sword is both a defensive and offensive weapon. As a Christian you have surely experienced opposition when you made an argument based on the Word of God. Of course! It hurts. It cuts, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Naturally, the lost hearer will recoil at the message of the Bible.

However, as a Christian, if you have not experienced such reactions, perhaps your sword is dull. Maybe you have hidden your sword away somewhere, and it has become pitted and rusted. Then, when you attempt to use it only bruises but does not cut, and the bruises quickly heal and are forgotten. If that is the case, you need to sharpen your sword! You cannot sharpen your sword with a 30-minute sermon or a 45-minute Sunday school lesson every Sunday. You need to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15, emphasis mine). “Study” does not mean to sit down and casually read a few chapters as one would a dime-store novel. The Greek word, spoudazō, means to “to use speed, that is, to make effort, be prompt or earnest: – do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study.”[9] If you will take just one or two chapters daily, read slowly and carefully, question the text, seek out the meaning of difficult words, etc. you will gain a deeper understanding of the Word of God. And, because you dug it out for yourself, it will stick better in your mind than what you can get out of casually reading it or listening to what the preacher may have to say about it. This is how you sharpen your sword and prepare yourself for the spiritual battle you face every day

Notes:


[1]  1 John 2:16

[2]  Luke records the same account in the order prescribed by John – Luke 4:1-14

[3]  Matthew 4:3

[4]  Matthew 4:6

[5]  Psalm 91:11-12

[6]  John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4

[7]  Revelation 1:16; 2:12, 16; 19:15

[8]  Ephesians 6:13-17

[9]  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D., G4704

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Like As We

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Our starting verse assures us that in Christ, we (who belong to Him) have a high priest – an advocate, an intercessor, or a “go-between” – that can relate to “the feeling of our infirmities,” i.e., our weaknesses or frailties both physical and emotional. He understands because He “… made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). He knows our struggles because He experienced our struggles Himself.

We may find ourselves on trial some day in a court of law for some alleged infraction of the law. In our defense, a lawyer – an advocate – will plead our case, but that lawyer goes only by what evidence we can offer. He cannot plead our case from personal experience. Jesus can.

Satan, our prosecutor/accuser, started his practice from the very beginning of creation. He not only brings the accusation, but he initiates the offense to begin with. His first victim was Eve in the Garden of Eden[1] and his tactics have not changed from the beginning. He introduces doubt in God’s Word – “Yea, hath God said?” Then he asserts that God’s Word is a lie – “Ye shall not surely die!” Next he accuses God of withholding something good and implies that he can offer something better – “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Of course, Satan cannot take all of the blame. God gave humans free will to choose whether to obey or disobey and a nature capable of enjoying all the pleasures God created for us to enjoy. John the Beloved warned, “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” (1 John 2:15). The Greek word translated “world” – kosmos – has a broad range of meanings. However, in this context, John is referring to “the whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc, which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ.”[2]

John sums up “the world” three ways. “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” (1 John 2:16, emphasis mine). Eve demonstrated all three of these frailties. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [lust of the flesh], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [lust of the flesh], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). We are no different today. Satan employs the same tactics and we still have the same weaknesses.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke both record Satan’s attempt to cause Jesus to sin.[3] At the beginning of His ministry, John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. Guided by the Holy Spirit, Jesus went into the wilderness, and for forty days and nights he fasted in preparation for His ministry. At the end of the forty days, he was physically exhausted, malnourished, and hungry. He was at His weakest point both physically and emotionally.

Satan assessed his victim’s weakened condition and availed himself of a prime opportunity to attack. Knowing with whom he was dealing, Satan dispensed with his usual tactics. He knew that he could not cause doubt in God’s Word. He was facing the Word Himself.[4] He could not slander the Word of God because he was in the presence of the Truth.[5] He could not tempt Him with “ye shall be as gods”[6] because he was in the company of God. Rather, Satan attacked Jesus’ human nature through human weaknesses. “And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread” (Luke 4:3). Here, the lust of the flesh, was especially challenging to a starving man. Who could fault Him for succumbing to that temptation? Yet Jesus answered Satan’s challenge with the Word of God. “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” (Luke 4:4, emphasis mine).

Failing at his first attempt, Satan tried again. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time [the lust of the eyes]. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine” (Luke 4:5-7). Again, Jesus responded with Scripture. “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8).

Satan knows Scripture too, and he knows how to twist it to suit his purpose. “And he brought [Jesus] to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone [the pride of life]” (Luke 4:9-11, emphasis mine). The final fail – Jesus sent Satan packing with His final Word making clear to Satan with whom he was dealing. “And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Luke 4:12, emphasis mine). Satan knew he met his match, so, “he departed from him for a season” (Luke 4:13, emphasis mine). Satan is a highly intelligent being, but he is stupid. Knowing full well that he is out matched by God, he still thinks he can somehow pull off a win.

We continue to struggle with our frailties, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Jesus faced those challenges also, just as we do, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Because we, who belong to Him, have His Holy Spirit in us, we can conquer our temptations the same way Jesus did, by standing on the Word of God. However, the Holy Spirit in us can only use the amount of ammunition that we provide, so it is vitally important that we maintain a well-stocked arsenal of God’s Word by reading and studying it daily. And when we fail, and we do fail, we can be sure that “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15) that intercedes on our behalf.

Reader, if you do not have this assurance, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 3:1-5

[2] Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D., The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (Hendrickson Publishing, Peabody, MA, 1981), Strong’s Number G2889, p.357.

[3]  Matthew 4:1-11Luke 4:1-13

[4]  John 1:1

[5]  John 14:6

[6]  Genesis 3:5

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A Reprobate Mind

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (Romans 1:28)

Romans 1 beginning with verse 18 delineates the progressive decline of mankind’s spiritual condition into total depravity. I know, the Calvinists will point out that we are all born in total depravity, and I get that. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). However, I am speaking from a human perspective in this case. Humans gauge good and evil very differently than God does. For example, humans view theft in degrees. Lifting a pack of Live Savers ™ and slipping them into your pocket or purse when the cashier is not looking, is not as bad as armed robbery of the same convenience store. Holding up a convenience store because you want to feed a starving baby, is not the same as robbing that store because you need to feed your drug habit. However, to God, it’s all theft. He does not view sin in degrees.

So, back to the decline of man: Romans 1:18-32 outlines the progressive decline into a condition of irreversible depravity. It begins with the failure to recognize God, the Creator, in the first place. One does not need the Bible to inform oneself about God. The very creation testifies to His existence. The vastness, enormity, and complexity of creation, from the unfathomable reaches of the universe beyond our solar system to the invisibleness of the subatomic world, scream that all of this is no accident. It is all too well-balanced. It is too precise. Everything in the Creation works together and is interrelated. None of this could possibly come into existence from a freak explosion of an indefinable particle of mass somewhere in the emptiness of nothing. The thought of such a thing is absurd! Yet, the majority of humankind, if they give it any thought at all, prefers the absurd instead of acknowledging the Creator.

Therefore, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20, emphasis mine). God gives no excuse for denying the Creator.

From there the downward spiral begins. Since they deny God, they need to replace Him with something out of their own imagination: a Big Bang, evolution from a primordial soup, seeding and evolving of the human race guided by the aid of “Ancient Aliens” from other worlds. Close examination of such far-fetched ideas leads to a never-ending list of more unanswerable questions with just as many unsatisfactory answers. The real answer to all of these questions is GOD, but that answer is just too simple for God deniers. So, they continue in their fruitless pursuits, and they “[become] vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart [is] darkened” (Romans 1:21). The dark obscures clear vision. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22). God calls them “fools.”[1]

After that, humanity falls into idolatry. Idolatry is not necessarily the worship of grotesque figures of strange demonic entities. Idolatry is more than that; it is the act of giving anything priority over God. That can be as innocuous as the forms of entertainment that occupy our time to involvement in such grandiose ideas as the activist groups who want to save the planet, combat climate change, save the dogs, engage in politics, etc. Anything that takes one’s focus away from God is idolatry. The passage explains the decline like this: “[They] changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:23). America pulled up anchor from the Solid Rock of God more than five decades ago and has drifted into idolatry, as a nation, ever since. As a result, “God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (Romans 1:24). We see this too in the rise of pornography, homosexuality and all forms of sodomy, pedophilia, and more.

This gives evidence that we are in the place of God’s judgment on our nation. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26-27, emphasis mine). Unless you have been living in seclusion, or worse, you are caught up in the idolatry of this world, it should be obvious that our nation has fully sunk into the morass of all kinds of human depravity.

Except for the voices of maligned Christians, our nation as a whole gives no thought to God. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:28, emphasis mine). The Greek word translated “reprobate” is adokimos means “not standing the test, or not approved.” It is used in reference to metals or coins that do not meet accepted standards. They are unfit, unproved, or spurious. The English definition gives the meaning of “depraved, unprincipled, or wicked.” A “reprobate mind,” therefore, is one that is incapable of proper reasoning.

This explains much of the unrest in our country. ANTIFA claim that they are anti-fascist, but they practice fascistic behavior. The BLM movement claims they support black lives, but their actions end up being detrimental to black lives. Many politicians of both parties wrap themselves in the Constitution, yet they oppose the duly elected President of the United States and refuse to investigate the illegal voting in five states that robbed President Donald Trump of a second term. And now that the other candidate appears to have the office in hand, they turn in irrational spite, hatred, and vindictiveness against the sitting President who has only a matter of days to serve in an attempt to impeach him. It makes no sense, and no amount of logic or reason will deter them from such a stupid act. This is a clear example of a reprobate mind!

Sadly, it appears that come January 20, 2021, the party of the reprobate mind will rule our nation unless we have a miraculous intervention of God. Let us pray that happens.

Notes:


[1]  Psalm 14:1; 53:1

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National Revival

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

This oft-repeated verse offers a tenuous hope for American Evangelicals that, if we only put its tenets into practice, God will keep His end of the deal and heal the trouble in our land. However, as I have asserted in the past[1], this verse is taken out of context and misapplied. If Israel’s history can teach us anything, it is that God has His limits when He will no longer hear the pleas for a nation.[2]

Recent history teaches us that, in regard to God, Americans are a fickle people. Following one disaster after another, America has turned to God in repentance only to return to its vomit[3] as soon as things get better. We find ourselves in a mess again. The Wuhan Bug paralyzed our nation with fear. Everywhere you look you find masked people avoiding contact with one another. You can even see masked people driving cars or walking outdoors. Fear over COVID-19 has shut church doors for fear of retribution by authorities and also for fear of spreading the virus.[4]

Unrestrained rioting in the streets of many of our major cities adds to the fear of many Americans, and everyone can see that our country is in serious trouble. Consequently, many evangelical leaders call on American Christians to pray for revival in our nation (again). They sincerely believe the promise that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16), and we can reverse the course our nation. Without getting into differences of eschatological views, many of these believe that through the hard work of prayer, Christians will turn the world around and usher in the millennial reign of Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah encountered a similar optimist in Hananiah.[5] God had already told Jeremiah that Judah would go into Babylonian captivity, and to demonstrate by way of an object lesson, God instructed Jeremiah to carry around a heavy ox yoke to illustrate the bondage into which Judah was going. However, Hananiah painted a different picture, “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 28:2), and he took the yoke off of Jeremiah and broke it to demonstrate what God would do. But that was not God’s plan, and Judah soon came under the yoke of Babylon for 70 years. Hananiah, the false optimistic prophet, did not live out the year for speaking falsely in the name of the Lord.

I am not a prophet, at least not like those through whom God spoke in the Bible. But I do study the Word, and I try to see the world through the lens of Scripture. In Scripture, God’s “chosen” people were punished for their disobedience and their idolatry – which involved sexual perversion and infanticide in their worship. If God so dealt with “His” chosen nation what makes us think that we will fare better just because we pray? Not every person in Judah was corrupt. Take for example Daniel, Hananiah (not the false prophet), Mishael, and Azariah;[6] they went into Babylonian captivity and they maintained their devotion to God. Surely there were others, but that did not stop God from punishing the “nation” of Judah for their sin. Nor will He save our nation at this point for our national sins even though “His people” pray.

Consider the downward spiral of sin described in Romans 1:18-32 and compare that to our nation. Our nation holds truth in unrighteousness. Our nation denies God and promotes the idea that all things came into existence by natural causes, and though they cannot prove their ideas, they invent “just so” stories and present them as facts. We profess ourselves to be wise, but indeed we are fools and only deceive ourselves. Rather than worship the Creator, we worship the creation and in our own feebleness attempt desperate measures to protect the planet (The Green New Deal).  As a consequence of our denial of God, He has turned over our nation to perverse lusts “to dishonour their own bodies between themselves” (v. 24). Think about the various ways we disfigure our bodies through tattoos, body piercings, the unnatural coloring of hair, other types of mutilations, homosexual perversions of all kinds, etc. God has turned over our nation to the “vile affections” of homosexuality – women with women, men with men, and even the sexual perversion of children. God has given over our people to “reprobate minds” so that they are incapable of reasonable thought. Simply consider the irrational reasoning they offer in support of some of their crazy ideas about climate change, about abortion, about the benefits of socialism, etc. Does it seem that the world has lost its collective mind? It has because God has allowed it as punishment for our sin.

Look at how Paul’s description perfectly fits America today. “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication [any sex outside the bonds of marriage], wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:29-32, emphasis mine). Does that not fit America today?

Do you know what God told Jeremiah about praying for the people of his day? God said, “Don’t pray for these people.”[7] Their grace period had expired. I fear America’s grace period has also expired, and God is saying, “Don’t pray for these people.” The train is hurtling downhill fast and the brakes are out. Our Lord’s return gets closer by the day. Every new fire ignited by lawless rioters brings us closer. Every murder that takes place closes the gap. Every baby that is aborted draws the noose tighter. Jesus is the only fix to this broken world.

Still, we pray. We are instructed to pray for our leaders[8] that we might live “peaceable” lives, but that does not necessarily equate to praying for the salvation of a too-far-gone nation. I could be wrong, but as I have searched the New Testament, I do not find any admonition to pray for the nation, the leaders yes, but not the nation. I would like to see a national revival, but I sincerely doubt that it will happen. Our national track record in that regard testifies to the improbability of that happening. Still, my baby brother and I will join thousands of others on the Mall in Washington DC on September 26 for a Franklin Graham sponsored prayer march on the nation’s capital.[9] We will march from the Lincoln Memorial, past the Washington Monument and on to the steps of the Capitol. We will march, and we will pray as we go. If the direction of the nation is to change, our leaders need to change either physically or spiritually.

National revival is improbable, but not impossible. Who knows! Our Lord may delay His coming, but His judgment is not only for our nation but for the whole world. The entire world needs repentance. If only our nation repents, it may not stop the judgment that is coming upon the whole world. In any rate, it would be great if our nation experienced a national revival. We can pray.

Notes:


[1]  “If My People” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/08/21/if-my-people/

[2]  “When God Won’t Hear” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/07/17/when-god-wont-hear/

[3]  2 Peter 2:22

[4]  “Fear Not” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/16/fear-not/

[5]  Jeremiah 28

[6]  Daniel 1:6

[7]  Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11

[8]  1 Timothy 2:1-2

[9]  Washington Prayer March 2020 – https://prayermarch2020.com/

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Fear Not!

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

In all my threescore and ten years I have not seen the kind of fear that grips our nation today. I grew up during the Cuban Missile Crisis and remember duck-and-cover drills in school, but I do not remember experiencing fear over it. To me, they were no different than fire drills and I thought it was fun to take a break from schoolwork.

Further along, I remember the Civil Rights marches and the Vietnam War protests, but they were far removed and affected me little. Soon the war called my number and I joined the Navy to do my part, but there was no fear in that either; I was just doing my duty as an American.

Our nation has gone through a lot in my lifetime, but never have I experienced the kind of fear that seems to permeate every pore of our society these days. First, the Wuhan Bug attacked, and we were frightened into sheltering in our homes and told not to come out unless absolutely necessary and then only when fully masked and with a good supply of hand sanitizer. So dreaded was the pandemic that churches shut their doors, as mandated by governing authorities, for fear of spreading the virus and of suffering repercussions at the hands of the authorities. Imagine Christians being jailed for practicing their faith! Unheard of! (Tongue firmly implanted in cheek!)

On top of all that, violent riots are breaking out in large cities all over the nation, and the authorities in those cities purposefully allow the riots to continue unabated while threatening churches and church leaders if they open the doors. The reprobate leaders in those cities want to comply with rioters’ demands to defund the police, but turn a deaf ear to Christians wanting to go back to church. Law-abiding citizens fear for their own safety because of the rampant violence taking place and the fear that they cannot count on police protection. Gun sales are up as citizens arm up to defend themselves from the lawless ones.

I completely understand why fear grips non-Christians. This life is all they have. Their only hope is what this life can give them, and they want to get as much out of this life as they can because there is nothing else. The Wuhan Bug and the lawlessness in the streets threaten the only life they know. Their world has been turned upside down, and it now comes down to survival of the fittest, the law of the jungle. That is a scary thing!

What I do not understand is Christians buying into the fear. Part of the reason, I believe, is that our churches have acquiesced to unlawful edicts[1] rather than obeying God’s directive to assemble.[2] I heard a sermon illustration once about the need for Christians to gather regularly. The preacher described a blazing bonfire with many logs piled high on it. But if you pull out one single log and set it off by itself, it quickly goes out and grows cold. That applies to a Christian that does not participate in regular church services with fellow believers. When Christians meet, we encourage one another. We share our needs and our praises with one another. We pray for one another and encourage one another. We lift our voices to God in praise together. That does not happen when the doors of the churches are closed. Yes, we can listen to our own pastors, pastors of other congregations, and any number of great Bible teachers on the internet, but that does not take the place of face-to-face fellowship. As a result, we lose courage and become fearful just like the rest of the world. Don’t you know? That is exactly how Satan likes it. As long as our churches remain closed, Satan is happy.

Why should a Christian succumb to fear? God has not given us a spirit of fear![3] Jesus said, “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him” (Luke 12:4-5, emphasis mine). So what if COVID-19 kills you! If you are a Christian, what does that mean for you? Or, are you so tied to the world and the things of this world that you would rather forgo heaven just to hang on to your stuff a little longer? Maybe heaven is not your home after all.

The first time God uttered the phrase “fear not” in the Bible, He said it to Abraham “saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1, emphasis mine).  As our “shield” God protects us from incoming missiles, even the Coronavirus. Do we believe that or not? A friend and fellow blogger commented on an article I shared recently.[4] She told me that her church opened its doors,[5] but soon thereafter, three of their congregation died from the virus and four were hospitalized and several in the church staff were infected. I do not know, but I suspect that her church has an aging congregation that is high-risk to begin with, and the fact that those in her congregation were infected does not necessarily mean that they caught it at church. Maybe they were, and maybe they weren’t. We all live in a fallen world, and therefore we are vulnerable to the maladies thereof. Another factor that must be considered is that this sampling is a minuscule part of the overall population of the United States and not representative of the entire populous. Numbers from the CDC indicate that deaths from the Wuhan Virus are extremely low, less than one percent.[6] Those that die from it have, in one way or another, already compromised immune systems. The median age of death from the virus for those over 59 years of age is 78 years old. Coincidently, the average lifespan in America is 78 years. This is not to minimize the value of every human life. Every life is precious to God, but the saints especially. Most of the saints I know would rather be “absent from the body and present with the Lord.”[7]

The second time God uses the phrase “fear not” is to Hagar after she and Ishmael were banished from Abraham’s camp.[8] God assures Hagar that He heard Ishmael’s prayer and He provided for her water in the desert. If God can hear the prayer of one without the camp, how much more will He not listen to the prayers of His own and provide for their needs? If we pray for God’s protection over our congregations, do we not believe that He will protect and provide for us?

On another occasion “Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not” (Exodus 20:20, emphasis mine). Could COVID-19 not be a test for the churches of God to “prove” them to see if they “fear” Him enough to obey Him rather than lawless men?

After Israel came into the Promised Land before they had kings, God said to them, “And I said unto you, I am the LORD your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice” (Judges 6:10, emphasis mine). The “gods” of the Amorites were not imaginary; they were real demonic spirits that were worshipped by the Amorites. The problem with Israel was not the Amorite gods; it was their disobedience to God whom they should have feared. The Coronavirus is real, but we should not be in fear of the virus; we should fear God and obey Him rather than men.

Later on, Israel – the Northern Kingdom – found itself threatened by Syria, but the Prophet Elisha warned the king of Israel about the threat. When the Syrian king learned of the source of the “leaks,” he surrounded Elisha’s house to kill him. Elisha’s servant feared for their lives when he saw they were surrounded, but Elisha was unafraid. “And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16, emphasis mine). Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes be opened and when God answered, the servant saw a greater army of angels surrounding the Syrian army. Is this just a fanciful story or does God still command an innumerable host of angels ready to protect His churches? Why are we fearful?

Must I go on? “Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you” (Isaiah 35:4, emphasis mine). Jesus Himself said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28, emphasis mine). It is long past time for churches to stand up to unlawful decrees, reopen the doors, and obey God rather than men.

Reader, if you are fearful in these days, you can find your security in God. Trust Jesus to save your soul and keep you safe in His arms. Read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  “Higher Powers” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/07/19/higher-powers/

[2]  Hebrews 10:25

[3]  2 Timothy 1:7

[4]  “Churches Aren’t Avoiding Death By Keeping Doors Closed. They’re Ensuring It

[5]  Read her comment here: https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/13/churches-arent-avoiding-death-by-keeping-doors-closed-theyre-ensuring-it/

[6]  Watch this report by Steve Deace on the BlazeTV (may require subscription): https://www.blazetv.com/watch/channel/series/series/5qrRSBLHHW7g-steve-deace-show/episode/43-ruvwuy6vllw9-overtime-a-coronavirus-quiz-81220?t=0

[7]  2 Corinthians 5:8

[8]  Genesis 21:17

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