Not Good Enough to Talk to God

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t pray or help someone out spiritually because you’re not living as spiritually as you think you should?

I recently overheard a conversation where one person confessed that he doesn’t pray anymore because He isn’t as close to God as he used to be. He feels that God isn’t going to listen to him because he is not doing what he knows he should be doing.

You might think this is silly, but I can completely relate.

There are times in my life when I feel like I’m being a strong Christian. I’m reading my Bible daily, praying constantly, and fasting regularly. I’m doing everything a “good Christian” should do and avoiding any obvious sins. It’s in these times when things are going well that I feel closest to God. I feel like God and I are best buds. I talk to Him and He listens, because I’m being such a good little Christian.

But those times only seem to last a few months. Before long I end up going down the same road as before. I stop reading my Bible, stop praying, and fasting is way out. I start fighting temptations more often and I get argumentative with my wife for no reason or start spending money selfishly putting us further in debt.

During those times in my life I know I can’t help others spiritually. Why would anyone listen to a failure who can’t even follow God for more than a few months at a time without sliding back into a worldly routine? Praying will be pointless because there is no reason God should listen to me. People want help from those who have been in their situation and overcame it and God only listens to those who are following Him in everything. Right?

In those seasons where I feel spiritually strong I know God will, of course, listen to me. Need prayer? Come to me! I’ll help, because I’m close to God so He listens to me. Need spiritual advice? Come to me! Because I’m reading the Bible daily so I have special insights and can tell you exactly what to do.

Because I am awesome enough that I can draw close to God. It’s all about Me.

I’m a puny spotted sheep in a flock of other puny spotted sheep thinking that I have an inside relationship with the Shepard because for once in my life, I’m actually doing what I’m told.

How arrogant can I be?

In 2010, I was going through one of those spiritual valleys. During this time I felt overwhelmingly called to write for ETM again and to resurrect this ministry.

Immediately my response was to say “NO!” How could I possibly tell others they should follow God when I wasn’t even doing it?

That’s like someone telling me – an un-athletic, overweight, couch potato – to go play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche! I would quickly be found out to be a fraud and would do nothing but humiliate myself and the team.

In the same way, I can’t possibly represent God or help others when I’m in my spiritual couch-potato mode. If I wanted to play on the team then first I need to start an intensive training regimen.

Only after getting back into spiritual shape by reading my Bible daily and doing all of the things I know I should do, would I even be able to consider trying to help others or be used by God. Only then will I be strong enough to… to go help God? Because the creator of the Universe who has infinite power and wisdom, He, really needs me and my spiritual beefiness.

God didn’t call me to start a spiritual weight training routine, He called me to write. Not later, but right then.

When we are spiritually strong we tend to get prideful. Pretending it is our own ability that makes us close to God. We feel like we can lead others to follow God closer because “look at me, I did it!” We tell others how we are following God and encourage them to do the same things we do.

But this attitude is an offense to God. We have to realize that all of us are horrible sinners before God. None of us are good (Romans 3:10), all of our best works are nothing but filthy rags.

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭64‬:‭6‬ NKJV)

Casting Crowns gave some good imagery for this verse in their new song “All You’ve Ever Wanted” they sing:

But all my deeds and my good name
Are just dirty rags that tear and strain
To cover all my guilty stains
That You already washed away

All of our good deeds are dirty before God. During those times when I’m feeling strong I’m really just dressing myself up in filthy, oily, blood soaked rags and acting like I’m wearing a tux. And then I approach God to show Him how amazing I look in my rags.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭4-5‬ NLT)

The only reason I can ever be spiritually strong is because God gives me the ability to be. It isn’t about me taking spiritual steroids and weight lifting to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s about me, being a quadriplegic and being strong only because God is my Iron Man suit. It’s all about Him. I am nothing.

God wanted me to write for ETM, not because I was good and in a position to lead others, but because He wanted to use me. I was to write because He had things to teach me. I was to write because He wanted to speak to others through me.

It’s all about God. Our works don’t make us a better Christian, only God does that.

When you are in a spiritual slump, don’t stop yourself from praying. That’s when you need to pray the most and when you are the most honest with God. A prideful and arrogant heart that thinks it deserves God’s respect is in fact disgusting to God, while a humble heart that recognizes it’s need for God brings Him honor.

A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭29‬:‭23‬ NKJV)

It’s never about us and our ability to follow. It’s all about God.

Have you ever used the excuse that you are not spiritually strong enough to avoid doing what God is leading you to do?

Would we do more, if following Jesus wasn’t so easy?

The Jordan River
The Jordan River (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This morning while reading the Bible I came across the story of Naaman, a commander of an army who also had leprosy.  He does what any of us would probably do when facing such a severe disease, he turned to God.

 But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”

But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.

But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’”  So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed!

— 2 Kings 5:10-14 (NLT)

I see this passage and am struck with the question, do I do the same thing?

He is struck with a disease and approaches God for healing, and the prophet gives him a simple answer. Go wash in the Jordan River.  His response is “No way!”  I can see at least three reasons in this passage as to why he said “no” at first.  And then I have to wonder if any of them are the reason I use to avoid doing what I am told to do.

Pride

“I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” 2 Kings 5:11

Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” – 2 Kings 5:12

Pride is something that is really difficult to deal with, but is the cause for so much of our disobedience to God.  And it is something that affects everyone.

For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, . . . pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” — Mark 7:21-23 NLT

Naaman wanted to receive the royal treatment, after all he was a commander of an entire army.  Yet when the prophet simply sends him a message with instructions, Naaman is greatly offended.  Instead of taking to heart what he was told to do, he lets his ego get the better of him and he walked away bitter.
I know too many people that have walked away from God, bitter towards Him, simply because God acted in some way that we didn’t want and we refuse to be humble.
Naaman then used the excuse that there are better rivers than the Jordan, so why not just use them?  Have you ever been called to do something in an area that you did not like?  Who wants to minister in the slums when you can minister to Hollywood stars and football players, right?
We have to be careful to not let our pride get in the way of our mission.  Pride in ourselves or in what area of the world we minister in.  If God calls us to pass out tracks in the slums of our city, then passing out tracks in the better areas of town is not a compromise, it’s just plain disobedience.
Naaman was not going to be healed by the water in the Jordan itself, but by obedience and humility.

Expectations

“I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! -2 Kings 5:11 NLT

I cannot count the number of times that I was disappointed because God did not act in the way that I, a mere human, wanted Him, the God of the universe, to act.  How silly is that?

We expect that when we pray for healing that God will instantly heal everything about us, or that if we pray for financial help that God will have someone send us enough money for everything we “need” to take care of.

But in reality God works in many different ways, sometimes subtle, but almost always in ways we never expected.

This week I have been praying for God to help us out financially.  Later I went to the store, and I saw a few movies that I really wanted.  Normally I would just get one and go on with my day.  I tried.  I stood in the movie section for ten minutes trying to decide which movie to get when it occurred to me, I didn’t really feel like buying a movie.  I wanted the movie, but the desire to actually spend money on it was gone.  In that way God helped me financially, not by giving me money like I wanted, but by helping me not be so stupid with the money He had already provided through my paycheck.

Don’t refuse to follow God or do what He commands you to do simply because it isn’t the way you wanted Him to help.

It’s too Easy

Project365-Day4
Project365-Day4 (Photo credit: JonZenor)

“Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” – 2 Kings 5:13

This one I have seen happen to people before.  They want to follow God in some really big important way, and until they are called to do something really big and important, they do nothing.

To accept the challenge to climb a mountain or donate a large sum of money to a cause makes us feel like we are actually doing something for God.  Why?  Because not everybody can do this.

We want to help others and serve God in some way that is unique and special, not just like everyone else can do.  Anybody could give a homeless person a few dollars, but we want to be the one to help get that homeless person back on their feet and into the life they used to have.

We want to be the one that flew to another country, went on a tour of Israel, and climbed a mountain to be closer with God.  It sounds impressive; very impressive.  Because it is not something that most people will ever do.  It shows that we have more dedication and commitment to God, that you are willing to sacrifice a lot for God.

But will you sacrifice the little things, every single day, for God?

Right now I’m using this excuse to avoid tithing.  Due to my current financial situation, I cannot give $100 a week in tithes and other charities like I used to do. So I haven’t been giving anything.  I could give $10, but that isn’t as impressive as what I used to do, it’s too easy.  So I do nothing.  Sacrificing ten dollars doesn’t show much dedication and sacrifice compared to one hundred.

Easy does not mean unimportant

Another reason why I think people do not do the easy things that God calls us to  do is because we feel like if it isn’t difficult then it isn’t important.  I can say that this is not true.

Giving a few dollars to a homeless man is important to him.  Reading your Bible every day may seem unimportant because of how easy it is, but it can have the single largest impact on your life.  Giving only $10 to Gospel for Asia is important for those people who are given a Bible or clean water because of that small donation.

Serving God is easy.  Follow Him, read the Bible, and follow what God tells you to.  It’s so easy that we think it is not important.  But it is important.  It is the most important thing we can do in our entire life.

Do you use any of these excuses to avoid following God?  What are you planning on doing about that?

When everything goes wrong: Is the Devil against you, or God?

Pride is a funny sin. Not funny in a laughing sort of way, but funny in the way it acts. Or more accurately how we react to it.

As sinful humans still stuck in the flesh we always find a way to justify our sin. Sometimes it is obvious but we want to ignore it, and other times, especially with pride, it is extremely hard to acknowledge the sin.  You can be stuck in pride and not even realize it. What is worth, God hates pride, and if you are being prideful then God will resist you.

God resists the proud,But gives grace to the humble – James 4:6

There are times in our life when everything seems to be going wrong. Because of our pride and our arrogance we automatically assume that it is the Devil that brings these trials to us, so we seek God to overcome the trials.

But what we fail to recognize is that sometimes it is God bringing us the trials. God may allow or bring trials in your life for any reason at all, because He is sovereign and wants to prove a point (read the book of Job) or to rebuke.

Do not despise the chastening of the LORD,Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. – Hebrews 12:5

If it is to rebuke us, then we had better repent and listen.  I am currently reading the book “The Light and the Glory” by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. The basics of the book is digging into history and personal journals of people who had a hand in founding this nation, from Christopher Columbus and his crew to George Washington and showing how God had a hand in the creation of this nation. (Look for our review of the book soon)

I noticed something interesting as I read about Christopher Columbus. He was a man of God, who served God and felt called to go on this mission to bring Christ to the Indies. Not everything went right, it took him 8 years of petitions and being rejected before he was finally approved for the mission. Getting there was not an easy trip and he ran into trouble, but continuously in his life he prayed and sought God.  By seeking God doors were opened that reassured Christopher that his journey was a call from God.

But something happened when Christopher Columbus first discovered the isles. Pride started to kick in, along with greed. These two forces worked to tear down what God was doing, not only in the life of Christopher Columbus but in the lives of all of the travelers who went to settle.

Gold became the new motivating factor, replacing the original mission of bringing the gospel to the new land. One of the ships was lost when it took off in search for gold (of the three that set for, and reach the Americas), and when they were about a week from home the largest storm that any sailor of the time had ever seen wrecked havoc on the ship.

Columbus’ response was to turn to God, but not to repent of his own greed or pride. No, the thing about Pride is that it, by definition, prevents us from seeing it; until it is too late. Instead they cast lots to make bargains to try and appease God. Promising to go on pilgrimages or promising to go to mass and praise God as soon as they reached shore. (sound familiar?)  They made it home, but broken, but that didn’t matter because Columbus was the new hero! Given the title “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” (at Christopher Columbus’ request) he showed the fruits of this new land. A few natives they brought back to translate, animals, fruits, and of course, the gold. So of course Admiral Columbus was sanctioned to return.

The settlement he returned to had been killed, attacked by the Indians after the settlers had raped and robbed and murdered many of the locals. Instead of this leading them all, especial Columbus, to repentance, this led to war, or more like genocide. After several more outbreaks a new governor was sent to take charge. But, being full of pride Christopher Columbus would not have his authority taken away, and ended up being arrested, sent back to Spain in chains, then after nearly a year was permitted to return to the new found land, but told never to return the colony he had already established.

Determined to make his own way Christopher Columbus fought to go where the gold was. Fighting such strong storms and winds that it took them 38 days to make a 3 day journey. 2 of the ships were torn apart by worms and Admiral Columbus was sick with the fever. He found his gold, and more bloodshed. He made it home, rich, but according to his journal, regretful for how he failed in his original mission, to bring the light to the lost.

Pride, turned a man who was on a mission by God into a man of greed, causing bloodshed instead of bringing salvation.  When opposed by every force imaginable, storms, winds or lack of winds, sickness, loss of food and water, it only brought them to cry to God for help, not to repent of their own sin. Why? Pride, they were sure they were on the right course, being hindered by Satan. They couldn’t imagine that it was God trying to get their attention, trying to get them to repent.

What should I do?

If you are struggling right now, and it seems that everything is going against you, do not just assume that this is Satan trying to stop you on your “God given” (or possibly selfish) mission.

First you need to seek God. Repent, ask God to show you anything in your life that is hindering you from serving God. If you are honest with God, he will show you your honest self, like it or not. God will show you what needs to go.

If you are not caught in pride or sinning, seeking God will still show you how God wants you to proceed, even if the problems in your life are caused by Satan.

So the bottom line, seek God, humble yourself, and repent.

I say this weeping: Church it’s time to humble ourselves!

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

This verse says that if God’s people humble themselves He will heal our land, not the lost or deceived who don’t know any better.  When will God’s people stop arguing and dividing about their pet doctrines?  Don’t you realize that if you need people to agree with you, for you to Love and accept them as a child of God, you are in pride?  What will you say to God when you approach His throne, and people who God sent to you were reprimanded for not agreeing with your doctrine?  Jesus said Love your enemies.  He used the greek word agape in this verse.  Agape is unconditional perfect Love.  This kind of love is described in 1 Corinthians 13.  Do you think you will have any excuse that could possibly justify you not obeying the Lord’s command?

We are talking about real people here, whom God dearly Loves.  Do you not remember how you were saved, how you were a disgusting, filthy sinner, and how God lifted you up and saved you in the midst of being a sinner?  What makes you think God, treats other sinners more harshly?  What gives you the right to push away the beloved of God, for the sake of you being right?  When you get to heaven, is it really going to matter that you defended your doctrine?  Or is Jesus going to want to see that every person who came across your path was empowered to get closer to Jesus, and experienced His Love through you?  When you get to heaven, is it really going to matter that you knew the Bible better than everyone else, or that you knew the King’s heart for the people He Loved and you were moved by His heart?  When you teach about Jesus, do people have to go through you to learn about Jesus, or can they have the relationship that Jesus died on the cross for them to have? Are you leading people to Jesus or to your doctrine?

It’s time for the church to start acting like a real family that actually Loves one another.  We are brothers and sisters despite our differences.  (For those of you who actually need me to say it, I don’t mean mormons or jehovah’s witness)  When you have family over to your house, for example: your actual brother or sister or mom or dad, do you not allow them to come to your house because of theological differences?  Do you constantly berate them for not believing as you do?  Do you find forums online to post on to tell the whole world how wrong your brother or sister or mom or dad is and how they are deceived?  When people talk about your mom or dad or brother or sister, is the first thing that comes out of your mouth a warning about how deceived they are?  No! Of Course Not!  Why do people think church family is any different?  It is something to pray and think about.

This is something I have consistently heard God saying to the church “Stop building your own kingdoms around your doctrine, instead humble yourselves so you can build and expand My Kingdom!  If you seek first and focus on my Kingdom and my righteousness, all of the rest of the things you are anxious about, that I told you to not be anxious about, will be taken care of! ”

Jason Upton – Dying Star

By His Grace Alone,

Machew

Being a successful Christian

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8

Awesome, meditate on the Bible and we will be successful, having money, good health and well liked.

As much as I would like to see that statement in the Bible, the more I meditate on it the more I know that is not the case. Paul was a great example of this, He knew the scriptures, walked by faith and preached the gospel. Yet, Paul never had a lot of money, didn’t have a position of power, was often jailed and beaten, and had some type of physical affliction that God would not take away, even though Paul prayed that God would.

So, was Paul successful? From here it doesn’t look like Paul was very successful. So was the Bible wrong then when it said that we will “have good success”?

Before we say the Bible was wrong, or that Paul wasn’t successful, here is another thought. By who’s standards are you measuring success? Fame, fortune, health, a place of power, these are all criteria that the world bases success on, but Christians are not of the world.

1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

1 Corinthians 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

No, the success that God tells us about in the Bible must be different than our own definition of success. Paul was successful, he obeyed God in what he did, so Paul’s success was in the Lord, and in doing the Lord’s work.

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Colossians 1:9-11 “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Psalm 1:1-3 “1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

We will be successful in the Lord when we do His work, according to His will. As Joshua stated, we will be successful by meditating on the Bible day and night, and not letting it depart from your mouth. This is the only way that you will be able to walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.

Fully pleasing God… now that’s what I call success.

Does it not seem important that we be reading the Bible daily? How else our we to get to know our Lord? Every Christian needs to make it a point to read the Bible daily, this will help you have a Christ like attitude, and to avoid false doctrines.

It is vital in our relationship with the Lord, so make some time for it. God deserves at least a few minutes out of your day, right?

< (((><

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An Inductive Study Through Genesis 3

-How long did Adam and Eve they the goodness of Eden before the Fall took place? What did their day consist of? Just how intimate was their communion with God? These things aren’t spelled out for us though our curiosity runs high.

-The lack of narrative about these things reminds us that the Bible doesn’t purport to be an exhaustive historical record. Its theme is to reveal God’s plan of redemption and so it centers it’s story around this theme. It tells us only what we need to know so that we might find the answers we need to live as God desires.

-This isn’t myth, or some legend that was concocted to explain evil. Adam and Eve were real historical figures. Eden was a real place and the Fall was an historical event.

-We have to understand the story this way because of a couple of crucial factors:
1) Jesus referred to Adam and Eve as real people and based his teaching on marriage on the account of their union recorded in Genesis 2. [Matthew 19, Mark 10] Now, either Jesus was mistaken, or He was telling the truth. His resurrection from the dead proves Him to be THE reliable source of all truth so we ought to take His reference to Adam and Eve as factual.
2) The Apostle Paul refers to Adam as a literal person and makes him one of two representatives of all humanity.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:45 – And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.”
The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Romans 5:12-15 – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . Nevertheless death reigned from Adam . . . who is a type of Him who was to come. . . . For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

-All people are descendants of the first Adam in a physical sense, and so are under the curse and ban of sin. Think of it this way – the dominion of Earth had been given to Adam. When Adam and Eve fell, they surrendered that dominion to the devil. They became slaves of sin, and all children born to a slave are also slaves. Slaves have no legal rights so no one was qualified to enter the contest to secure man’s freedom and restore his lost dominion. Only free men can free slaves. Slaves cannot free slaves.

-All that was – until Christ. Because he was born of a virgin, the stain and curse of Adam’s sin was not passed on to Him. He was a free man and so able to enter the contest to rescue man and deliver him from bondage to sin and death.

-The great difference between Adam and Christ is that whereas all people are automatically linked to Adam by physical birth, they must chose to link to Christ by spiritual birth – which comes through placing your trust in Him. The sons and daughters of Adam must come to Christ and ask Him to put the key of salvation to their chains of sin.

-In these verses, Paul is saying we are either in Adam or in Christ; one or the other. Adam must be a real historical figure and the Fall a real event, or the Person and Work of Christ lose their power to save us.

With that as background and foundation, let’s dive into Genesis 3

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

-Though Satan isn’t mentioned in this chapter, it’s clear that he’s the one who’s behind this. In John 8:44, Jesus refers to him as the murderer from the beginning and the father of lies. In Rev. 12:9 and 20:2 refer to the devil as “the great dragon . . . that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” In Ezekiel 28:13-19, we’re told that Satan was in Eden. Other passages link Satan with a serpent. [Job 26:13; Isaiah 51:9]

-Because of the judgment God lays on the serpent, it’s reasonable to conclude that it originally stood upright and was a creature of beauty. We conclude this because it’s the devil’s standard tactic to present himself as an angel of light, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:14. So he comes to Eve in a form that would commend itself to her attention. But his union with the serpent has produced something that was far more intelligent and crafty than any of the beasts God had created.

-The question arises at this point – where did Satan come from? In Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 we find the main passage which speak about the origin of the devil. He began as a heavenly creature named Lucifer who was the highest of all God’s creations. He was one of the cherubim who had great beauty and wisdom implanted in his being. Musical instruments were a part of his equipment and it appears he was charged with the task of leading the heavenly host in the worship of God.

-But something happened inside Lucifer that proved his undoing; pride moved him to seek to become the object of worship instead of contenting himself to lead worship. Scripture does not give us the reason behind this change but there is a legend from the Jews which may give us some insight.

-It is said that when Lucifer found out about God’s plan to make man, a creature of the dust into whom He would put His Spirit, and then would eventually raise man to the place of being God’s eternal companion, and that Lucifer would be serving UNDER that dirt-born creature, he balked. Lucifer decided that such a plan was absurd and that if this was God’s plan then heaven needed a new ruler. He convinced a third of the angels to join him in rebellion and assaulted God’s throne.

-But of course he was defeated – and instead of surrendering, his pride drove him to become God’s adversary – which is what the name Satan means. Since man was the focal point of the controversy between God and Satan, the war between them centers on the fate of man; humanity becomes the battleground and prize. Satan wants to rob God of His companion, and of course, God wants to redeem man and bring Him home.

-Satan begins by asking Eve about God’s command. . . “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’ Notice how cunning & crafty he is! He doesn’t want Eve to consider God’s goodness or all the freedom and blessing she enjoyed. No – he wanted her to focus her attention on the one prohibition God had given.

-Isn’t this just what Satan does to us today? He’s always planting thoughts in our minds about what we DON’T have and what we CAN’T do, but never what we DO have, what God HAS blessed us with, and the freedoms we DO have in Christ. No, Satan’s always attempting to make us focus on the negative in life, even if it’s not intended to BE a negative, Satan has a way of twisting something good so that it looks to be negative (i.e. the fact that we shouldn’t get drunk and be sexually immoral, the fact that some of us our poor materially [which in itself could truly be a blessing from God because our poorness may keep us rich in the Spirit]). He makes us focus on what we cannot do and what we do not have rather than what we can do, and do have.

-So Satan asks a question that seems to cast her understanding of God’s word into some doubt…”Did God really say you can’t eat of every tree?” See how crafty the devil is? He’s already twisting the Word of God into something other than what it means.

-In Ch. 2 God was quite clear – they were free to eat of all the trees save one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So the devil comes with a simple bit of twisted logic and says – “Well that means you can’t eat of all the trees!” Now, until the devil said this – it was all quite clear to Eve – she could eat of all the trees except that one! Listening to the serpent she begins to get a little confused because just what does all and every mean now? Instead of considering all she’s free to do, her attention is drawn to what’s forbidden.

-In 2 Cor. 11:3, Paul says that Eve was deceived by the craftiness of Satan. We would do well to remember this when it comes to temptation. The devil is a master at twisting things around and getting us to focus on that which we ought not entertain.

-We will never outsmart him, we need to trust in Christ and run to Him to protect us when tempted. The spiritually mature know the very most effective way to resist temptation is to pray, praise, and to bring temptation into the light of Christ’s presence.

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, . . .

-Let’s stop right there – Eve doesn’t seem surprised that the serpent talked to her. This may mean that prior to the Fall some of the animals had the power of speech – or it may mean that besides communing with God, Adam and Eve also communed with some of the angels who took shape and form in some way. In any case, Eve doesn’t seem put off by the serpent’s communication.

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

-Eve rehearses the command of God – and she gets it right, right up to the end, but then she adds something. God had told them not to eat; He never said anything about touching it.

-It seems that in their zeal to keep God’s command not to eat of the forbidden tree they had also set up a personal fence around it that said they wouldn’t even touch it. But the mistake Eve made was in equating her convictions about how to obey God with the Word of God itself.

-You see, the danger of this is when I elevate my personal convictions about what God would have me do to the place of the Word of God, then they aren’t just for me anymore, they apply to you too. For example, if I find television offensive and am stumbled by it, so I unplug it and put it in the garage, that’s great! But if I equate that conviction with Paul’s command to not be conformed to this world, then I am going to start expecting YOU to unplug your TV too. And if I visit your home and see a TV, well, then I’m going to think your relationship with the Lord is deficient.

-Elevating personal convictions about how to obey God to the place of scripture is called legalism. There is nothing wrong with having personal convictions about how to obey the commands of God – in fact, having such convictions is good! What’s wrong is when we demand others live by our convictions.

-We must discern the difference between the Word of God and our personal decisions on how to respond to it.

Genesis 3:4-5 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

-The fact of the matter is, the bottom line of their eating of the fruit was death – immediate spiritual death and eventual physical death. And besides that, they would plunge the earth under the curse where death becomes the inevitable end of all living things.

In his cunning, the devil insinuated that the reason why God prohibited them eating of the forbidden tree was because it would grant them something God wanted to keep for Himself – knowledge! Yeah – he told Eve that by disobeying God, she would gain a benefit. Sin, he said, would lead to wisdom and experience and the knowledge of good and evil.

-Now, the fact is, she already knew good; she just had no knowledge or experience of evil. There are lots of things God never intended man to know, because knowing them would mean thwarting the knowledge and experience He wanted mankind to have.

-Another lie the devil told Eve is that if she ate she would be like God. It’s interesting that in Isaiah 14:14, this was one of the aspirations that motivated Lucifer’s rebellion against God. He decided to try this appeal on Eve too.

-You know it’s interesting that what the devil said to Eve here is the same thing he says to us in temptation.
1) “You will not die.” Don’t worry about the consequences of sin! You can duck them; you’ll evade the fallout. Don’t think about the consequences, just think about the sweetness of the fruit!
2) “Your eyes will be opened.” Sin will enhance your life! God has drawn tight boundaries around you but life has so much more to offer!
3) “You will be like God.”

-The bottom line for Eve was the idea that she didn’t have to answer to God any longer. She could be independent and be on the same level as He. Instead of existing FOR HIM, she could exist for herself; living by her own rules and reality.

-It’s interesting that this is precisely the lie we see fostered in all of the occult and most clearly in the New Age Movement. According to a 1992 survey, 12 million Americans are active participants in the New Age movement. Another 30 million are avidly interested. If all these people were brought together in a church-like organization, it would be the 3rd largest religious denomination in America.

-Almost all of the cults teach that man is or can become a god by advancing in the secret knowledge the cult possesses and passes out to those who are proven worthy. This is the promise of Mormonism, The Way, Scientology, EST, Hinduism, and a host of other groups.

-But it’s an empty promise because there are two indisputable truths in the universe;
1) There is a God.
2) You are not He! And you never will be!

Genesis 3:6-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

-Eve touched the fruit – nothing happened. So she became emboldened and took a bite.Then she gave some to Adam and He ate. And immediately – just as was promised, their eyes were opened and they realized their choice had been the wrong one.

In 1 John 2:15-16 John identifies the 3 basic avenues temptation falls in to.

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world –the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.

-John mentions . . .
1) “The lust of the flesh” = “the woman saw that the tree was good for food” There is the constant desire of the body for carnal satisfaction. How much of the world is aimed at promising some new sensation, some new pleasure that will make living more fun?
2) “The lust of the eyes” = “the woman saw that the tree . . . was pleasant to the eyes” The appeal here was to her soul for the eyes are the window to the soul. They provide light for the mind and stimulate the emotions.
3) “The pride of life” = “the woman saw that the tree was . . . desirable to make one wise” This was an appeal to her spirit – to gain spiritual insight and arrive at the place of independence from God. Again, the whole world system is designed to create in us a false sense of security and independence.

-What’s disturbing is why Adam followed Eve.

-Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:14 – “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

-Eve fell because she was deceived; Adam’s fall was based on something other than the deception that drove Eve. Though the root of Adam’s choice isn’t identified here, many have suggested it was born out of a desire to be with Eve, even if being with her meant joining her in sin. Eve was tricked into sinning; Adam knew exactly what he was doing.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

-They’d been naked before, remember? That’s what 2:25 told us; but they weren’t bothered by their nakedness then. For some reason, now they’re ashamed and feel the need to hide themselves. The difference is the feeling of guilt. They’ve done something wrong and feel the loss of God’s approval and acceptance.

-Before the fall, as man and woman bore the untarnished image and likeness of God, it’s likely they too were clothed with light. But the moment they ate of the forbidden fruit, the image of God was shattered and the light went out. Aware of their nakedness, they set about to cover themselves and grabbed some fig leaves.

-Fig leaves have tiny hairs on them that would make these garments extremely uncomfortable and itchy! But this serves up a perfect picture of man’s own attempts to cover over his sin and guilt. They serve as a fitting picture of man-invented religion. At best, all human-originated religion can do is remind man of his failure as it provides an inadequate covering for his sense of guilt.

-When you think about those cults and religions that make works the basis of salvation you realize that is exactly what happens. When your relationship with God is based on performance, on how many works you’ve managed to rack up, you can never be sure you’ve accumulated enough points to earn God’s acceptance. The entire time you’re trying to earn brownie points, you’re also adding on some demerits. You can never rest in the confidence you’ve done enough.

-Those fig-leaves of Adam and Eve speak of a works-based religion. But they don’t cut it, as the story goes on to prove.

– What body part do you suppose Adam and Eve covered up? Study of many different cultures of the world show that above all other body parts, the genitals are the ones that are more likely to be covered. You see, the result of their failure would now be passed on to all of their descendants, and their descendants would of course come through the agency of their union in this way. Man and woman’s modesty in regards to covering this part of their body is the spiritual echo of Adam and Eve’s sense of shame in realizing what they had bequeathed to all of their descendants for all of time.

-What does this mean then when a culture allows people to expose this area, when people lose their sense of shame of being naked? It means that culture has become some immersed in sin, and so defiant toward God that it has lost its sense of shame. That culture stands poised on the edge of destruction. It cannot stand because it has embraced death.

-It is said that man is the only animal with the capacity to blush. When he no longer blushes, he has become just one of the animals!

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

-The Bible is clear that no one has seen God the Father, but Jesus did make several appearances on earth before His incarnation in Bethlehem. So it seems it the regular habit of God to come and commune with Adam and Eve.

-Why did they hide? If they were confident in the sufficiency of their new fig-leaf garments, why did they hide? As soon as they heard God, they realized their efforts were useless.

-How many people today think that the way to God is through good works? Most do! Ask anyone why they think they’re going to heaven and they’ll say that it’s because they are a good person. They’re in for a rude shock when they enter the throne room of heaven and face the Heavenly Judge.

-It’s not about good works or being a good person! The best man or woman is still a sinner and falls short of the glory of God. Only God can provide the help we need.

-The evidence that Adam and Eve have lost something central and crucial to their lives is the foolish idea that they could hide from God. Here’s the primary evidence that they have already suffered a mortal spiritual blow.

Genesis 3:9-10 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 So he [Adam] said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

-Look at the fruit of eating the forbidden fruit – fear, self-consciousness, guilt, stupidity!!!!!!

Genesis 3:11-13 And He [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
12Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
13And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

-How typical – Adam blames his wife! Eve was a quick study and learned from her husband; when confronted with sin – blame someone else.

Genesis 3:14-15 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

-God didn’t ask Satan any questions as He had of Adam and Eve because there was nothing to teach him. The curse on the serpent has two parts. The first is directed at the animal Satan possessed, the second is directed at Satan himself.

-First – if the serpent had been a beautiful, upright and intelligent creature before, from now on it is condemned to slide on its belly through the dirt. The early sense of open approach that the serpent had had toward the woman will now cease as well. God says that enmity, ill-will, will be the normal state of affairs between women and snakes. This is pretty generally the rule!

-Second, God switches the direction of the curse and aims it at Satan There is no doubt that verse 15 is a prophecy of Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan.

-In the Bible and in the Jewish way of thinking, it’s the man who provides the seed. The reference here to the seed of the woman is a clear reference to the virgin birth.

-This is known as the protoevangelium, the first gospel. God is giving here the promise of One who will come through the woman, not by agency of the man. It’s clear by the use of the pronouns, “He” and “His” that God is speaking of a specific person. This One who is to come, will bruise, or crush, satan’s head. But in that act, His own heel will be bruised.

-What a perfect picture of the Cross – the place where God, in the person of Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, defeated the devil and destroyed his long work of sin and rebellion, but in the process, was Himself bruised by the crucifixion.

-The devil’s wound was mortal, inflicted on his head, his authority, his power and dominion. Jesus’s wound was only incidental – in His heel.

-It’s crucial we realize that what God says here in the cursing of the Serpent and Satan is not some add on and emergency measure He had to improvise because of man’s failure. God knew from the beginning that Adam & Eve would Fall. So He took up their failure and used it as the means of doing something even greater.

-God’s plan wasn’t ‘set back’ when Adam and Eve sinned, because God’s plan was to bring forth something greater than innocent man; God wanted to bring forth redeemed man. A redeemed man is greater than an innocent man.

-Here’s the great lesson we can learn from this – God does not will evil! But because God is infinite in His wisdom, goodness, and power, He can take evil and weave it into an even greater manifestation of His glory! No matter what Satan or evil men and women do, God will take it up and redeem it! He will make of it something awesome!

-A story’s been told of a weaver who was making a beautiful tapestry of bright colors; red, yellow, blue, gold, and green. The design was gorgeous. But the people who stopped to watch him were amazed that the weaver so often used the black yarn. It seemed that in between each line of brightly colored thread was a line of black. From the backside, the tapestry seemed all dark, but when they came around to the front they saw the colors and beauty of the scene the weaver wrought. He explained, “The black thread is the background upon which the colors sit. Without the black, the colors would all blend and become a confusion.”

-And so it is with sin, it’s the black thread God weaves into His great plan. He takes sin, guts it of its evil, transforms it into a lesson learned about His truth, His mercy, His forgiveness, and then weaves it into the tapestry of our lives and of history. When we stand back and look at His work of redemption all we can say is – “All things do indeed work together for good!”

Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

-It’s interesting to note that while most animals that give live birth do so with a measure of pain, none seems to bear the torment of a human woman.

-God adds an additional curse to the woman and it has to do with her relationship with her husband. It was always part of God’s order for marriage that the man would be the head of the relationship – we see that in ch. 2, but there was an amiable equality that existed between Adam and Eve before the Fall that is now lost.

-There’s the introduction of the idea here that there will be tension between men and women and especially in the marital relationship. The word “desire” here used is also used in Genesis 4:7 of the desire of sin to master Cain. It presents the idea of wanting to dominate and take over.

-God is saying that Eve will find herself in competition with Adam, but in the end, he shall have the place of dominion over her.

Genesis 3:17-19 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

-Because of Adam’s sin, there is a curse upon all creation. Before the curse on man, the ground only produced good. After the curse, it will still produce good, but thorns and thistles will come faster and easier than the good fruit. We see this at work today in our gardens, when it seems like only the weeds and the unwanted plants seem to grow better and faster than the plants we WANT growing.

-Adam worked before the curse, but it was all joy. Now his work had a cursed element to it; pain, weariness, and frustration would dog his steps.

-The final curse was that after laboring a lifetime of toil and sweat in the dirt, he would return to it in death.

-What the First Adam brought in to the world through the Fall, Jesus, the Last Adam has born away on the Cross.
Did sin bring pain in childbirth? No one knew more pain than Jesus did when He, through His suffering, brought many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
Did sin bring conflict between man and woman? Jesus endured greater conflict to bring our salvation (Hebrews 12:3).
Did thorns come with sin? Jesus endured a crown of thorns to bring our salvation. (John 19:2).
Did sin bring sweat? Jesus sweat, as it were, great drops of blood to win our salvation (Luke 22:44).
Did sin bring sorrow? Jesus became The Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief, to save us (Isaiah 53:3).
Did sin bring death? Jesus tasted death for everyone that we might be saved (Hebrews 2:9).

Genesis 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

-We’re so used to referring to the woman as Eve we may not notice that this is the first time that name is actually used. The name “Eve” means “living” and reflects Adam’s faith in the promise of God that He would provide for their redemption through the see of the woman. His naming her also demonstrates his embracing his role as her head.

Genesis 3:21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

-Hebrews 9:22 makes it clear that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. The fig-leaf coverings Adam and Eve had wangled together didn’t suffice so God, in His grace made new coverings for them. But it took the life of some animals to do so – showing them the hideousness of sin and just what it costs.

-It must have been an inordinately sad day for the first man and woman as they experienced the fall, then witnessed the death of a couple of the animals, creatures they had had close and familiar contact with, just so they could be covered.

-The effects of sin are multiplying before their eyes. One bite of the fruit and look at all the devastation, loss, sorrow, pain and grief! There is no such thing as a little sin!

Genesis 3:22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”

-Here is God taking counsel within the persons of the Trinity. When He says, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil,” don’t read this as a fulfillment of what the devil said to Eve. Satan had promised something good – the real result was evil.

-The other tree that mentioned in the Garden is the Tree of Life. Of this tree Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten – but if they did so now, they would be perpetually locked in a state of sin and separation from God. So God takes action to make sure they didn’t eat of that tree as well.

Genesis 3:23-24 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

-Note that-the way was guarded TO the Tree. The reason why is because God wants man to have access to the Tree of Life but only under the right set of circumstances – when he’s been redeemed from sin.

-We find the Tree of life in the Book of Revelation; it’s growing in the new Heavens and New earth and provides healing for the nations.

-One last thing to see here – God stationed cherubim at the edge of the Garden. The cherubim are those mighty and august creatures we see surrounding God’s throne. They are like God’s heavenly bodyguards. At least 2 of them were dispatched to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

-This seems like overkill if all they were tasked to do was keep man out. After all, one average run of the mill angel was enough to exact the judgment on the firstborn of Egypt and to slay the 185,000 in the army of Assyria in one night. [2 Kings 19:35]

-If one angel has that kind of power, one would have been sufficient to protect the tree of Life if the threat was only from man. It wasn’t – and that’s why God stations cherubim there – because the threat was from another cherub – the one who’d fallen and started this whole mess in the first place.

-It was probably satan’s next step to get Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Life and forever seal their fate and his dominion over them. God was not about to let that happen.

The Seduction of Sin

Judges 16:4-21

Judges 16:4 “After this it came about that he [Samson] loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.”

-Samson over and over again pursued not the godly Jewish women, but he had a weakness for the “bad girls” (the Palestinian women). We see here that he was walking in the valley of Sorek, which was a Palestinian settlement, so he knew he would encounter things he should have stayed away from.

-Although he knew that God commanded His people to steer clear of cohorting with “pagans”, here we see Samson willingly PUTTING himself in a situation where he would be able to watch and meet Palestinian women (thus disobeying God’s command).

-It’s interesting to note that Delilah is a name derived from the Hebrew word “dalal” which literally means to bring low, to be emptied. As we will see, Delilah certainly DID cause Samson to be “brought low” and she emptied him.

-There’s a big lesson to be learned here…if you know you have a weakness for something that God forbids, don’t even put yourself in a situation where you can fall….don’t even go there. The best way to resist temptation is to flee from it…to steer clear of those situations, places, environments, and people who will cause us to fall into temptation. If you have a propensity toward alcoholism, stay away from bars or parties where people are drinking. If you have a tendency to fall into sexual sin, stay clear of movies, TV shows, and internet sites which have scenes that would incite that lust within you; stay clear of even those who talk about sex and joke about it. If you have a habit of using bad language, stop filling your senses with things where people are using that kind of language. Bottom line, if you know your weakness, don’t place yourself in a place where you can fall. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.

-Samson was called to be a Nazirite, which meant that he was dedicated to and belonged to the Lord. But Samson was more devoted to fulfilling his own pleasures than he was in serving and trying to please the Lord. He seems to think that the rules that apply to all others don’t apply to him.

Judges 16:5-6 “The lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and see where his great strength lies and how we may overpower him that we may bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”
6 So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength is and how you may be bound to afflict you.”

-Delilah doesn’t hide her intentions, she got right to the point in telling Samson that she wanted him to be subdued so she could destroy him. But Samson probably didn’t take her seriously and considered this some sort of sexual playing around.

-We read this and think, “Come on Samson, don’t be an idiot. Get out of there!” But how often we do the same thing. We see moral danger coming our way…we know we’re going to fall and be destroyed by it, but we do it anyway because there’s something within us that always seems to want to dance with danger.

-Take note, the devil does not want to bless you or bring you anything good. He uses temptation to destroy us and tear us down. It is our destruction he ultimately wants to see, no matter how enticing he makes giving into temptation seem or how magnanimous he makes himself out to be.

Judges 16:7-9 “Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I will become weak and be like any other man.”
8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them.
9 Now she had men lying in wait in an inner room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he snapped the cords as a string of tow snaps when it touches fire. So his strength was not discovered.”

-Looking deeper into this verse, we see that Samson had to have been asleep when she bound the cords to him because she called out to him after she was done. If he had been awake the whole time, she would not have had to call out his name.

-It’s no secret how he ended up asleep in her presence either. She gave him what he wanted, and in his exhaustion afterwards he fell to sleep. So we see here that Samson was allowing himself to be ensnared by her through his sexual sins. He knew God’s commands and he knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he insisted on doing it anyway.

Judges 16:10-14 “Then Delilah said to Samson, “Behold, you have deceived me and told me lies; now please tell me how you may be bound.”
11 He said to her, “If they bind me tightly with new ropes which have not been used, then I will become weak and be like any other man.”
12 So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” For the men were lying in wait in the inner room. But he snapped the ropes from his arms like a thread.
13 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies; tell me how you may be bound.” And he said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my hair with the web and fasten it with a pin, then I will become weak and be like any other man.”
14 So while he slept, Delilah took the seven locks of his hair and wove them into the web. And she fastened it with the pin and said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he awoke from his sleep and pulled out the pin of the loom and the web.

-In verse 14, the web was undoubtedly the cloth which Delilah was weaving in a loom. The pin was the object with which the braided locks were fastened to the web. She probably wove his hair into the cloth. No doubt he would have been in a pretty deep sleep in order to do this. Possibly he was even intoxicated, which was a direct violation of his Nazirite vow since those who took this vow were forbidden from drinking any wine or anything alcoholic. This just comes to show that one sin will ALWAYS lead to another…sometimes in a completely unrelated area of your life.

-Notice also the the more he fudges about the “secret” to his strength, the closer and closer he gets to telling the truth of it. We see him willingly walking down his own path of destruction as he continues to refuse to leave Delilah and the Palestinian regions and, thus, flee from the causes of his sin.

-If there was any doubt in his mind that Delilah was not serious, there certainly is none now. She has proven over and over again that she is being used by the other Palestinians to destroy him. He’s been attacked now everytime she actually does to him what he says would bring him down. But he continues to play with fire and dance with danger. Possibly it was his pride? Maybe he had put so much faith in his strength that he had now forgotten, or even was not taking God seriously enough when the Lord had told him not to cut his hair or else the power the Lord gave him would leave. This just comes to show that pride is truly the root of all sin.

Judges 16:15-17 “Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.”
16 It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was annoyed to death.
17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.”

-So now Samson is annoyed. You would think by now that in being annoyed, he would be sick of playing these games with her and would decide to now do the right thing and just leave. But he didn’t. He not only did not leave, but he gave in and told her his secret. He revealed to her what he knew would bring about his destruction.

-Samson had become so steeped in his own sins that he had become numb to their dangers. This is true even for us today. We can get so used to living in sin, that we slowly start to view it as not so wrong anymore, and if we continue, we eventually become so numb to the Spirit’s voice in our conscience telling us to turn away and repent, that we have completely shut Him out. This, my friends, is dangerous, even deadly.

-When we give into temptation, it becomes easier to give into it again and again and again and… until eventually we are so far down that road that we can no longer control ourselves…the sin completely takes over.

Judges 16:18-21 “When Delilah saw that he had told her all that was in his heart, she sent and called the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all that is in his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hands.
19 She made him sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair. Then she began to afflict him, and his strength left him.
20 She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.”

-Samson had gone so far from the Lord in his sin, that he wasn’t even aware when the Lord left him. He had fallen so far away from God and His presence, that he had lost all sense and direction in his spiritual life…and didn’t even recognize when God had turned away.

-There comes a point where God will stop pursuing you and calling out to you, and you will be left to your sin. If you do not know the Lord, your fate is then sealed. You are spiraling down the path of destruction to hell and you have hardened your heart toward God and there is no turning back.

-Samson had come to expect the grace of God to help him no matter what he did in his life or no matter how often or how much he insisted on living in sin. But Samson woke up to realize that God’s grace had left him. You see, we do not deserve God’s grace. The whole concept of grace is giving what is undeserved. If we continue to expect His grace, take advantage of it, and continue living in sin without repentance, God’s grace will leave us and we will be left to the destruction of the sin we have allowed to infiltrate our lives and hearts.

-All Samson had to do was get up and get out of there, but he didn’t…he insisted on doing what he wanted to do and ignoring what God desired for him, and the Lord removed His presence from Samson as a result.

-Samson’s life story is really the story of a backslider. Read and learn from his example: you are NOT going to get away with sin. The consequences WILL find you out and you cannot hide it from the Lord or expect that the Lord is always going to be gracious to you. There comes a time when we can push Him away so far that He will leave us to the destruction we’ve brought upon ourselves. Don’t let yourself get to that point. See your sin and the dangers of living in it for what it is, repent and turn back!

-The ONLY way to defeat sin is to give it up to Christ. Rely on Him, surrender your life to Him. Lay hold of the grace of God, leave Sorek, flee from Delilah’s house, and escape your own destruction.

Better than others?

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

The word for “selfishness” was eritheian which appeared in chapter 1:17 to describe those who opposed Paul. Without question such behavior is of the flesh and not of the Spirit (Galations 5:20). Along with “empty conceit”, the two negatives are followed by a postive exhortation: “regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

Humility before God and man is a virtue every child of God needs to strive for. A spirit of pride in human relations indicates a lack of humility before God. Paul is thus exhorting the Philippians to consider others before themselves.

Paul explained how humility can be expressed (philippians 2:4). Instead of concentrating on self, each believer should be concerned for the interests of others in the household of faith (cf. Romans 12:10). Preoccupation with oneself is sin.

Now I find myself being guilty of thinking myself better than others, particularly non believers when they are steeped in sin….I find thoughts like, “At least i’m not doing THAT!” or thinking that just because I’m a child of God that that makes me so much better than those who’re not. And I know i’m not the only one who struggles with thoughts of thinking us better than others BECAUSE we’re not steeped in sin and BECAUSE we have the victory over that. But in your rejoicing over your victory and freedom from sin’s bondage, be careful not to start thinking yourself BETTER than those who ARE still bound. Paul’s telling us that we are NOT to think ourselves BETTER than others no matter how steeped in sin or evil that other person is…we must remember that God once viewed us as just as evil and sinful before we were redeemed (even IF we never did anything as “bad” as that other person). In our victory in Christ, let us not become arrogant and snub our noses and look down on those who do not have that same victory, or maybe other brothers and sisters, even, who may not have the same gifts we do or maybe their gifts are seen as not being as “powerful” as our gifts are. Remember that the world’s view of greatness is not God’s. Those who labor in prayer in their bedrooms for ministry leaders, those unknown “unnamed” prayer warriors, those whose names the world does not know, they just may possibly be the ones who are seen as greater in the eyes of God than even well known evangelists, or those famous propheciers, or “miracle workers” who the world sees as “great men of God.” Remember that in God’s eyes, the greatest gifts of all aren’t the “sign” gifts (the tongues, the healings, the prophecy, even being raised from the dead…all those gifts that baffle and awe those here on earth)…no….to God the greatest of ALL gifts is love and He urges us to pursue that above all other gifts.

If we cannot practice humble attitudes with each other, then how can we be humble before God? If we cannot live in humility with each other, if we insist on thinking ourselves greater than others for whatever reason, and voicing an arrogance and pride, then we are in direct disobedience to God and His commands.

Now Christ offers such a wonderful example of humility and it’s illustrated beautifully in

Philippians 2:5-8 our attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

In verse 5, believers are exhorted to have the same attitude–selfless humility–Christ exhibited in His humiliation and condescension. In verses 6 and 7 Paul is saying that Christ Jesus is of the very essence of God, and in His incarnation he embraced perfect humanity. His complete and absolute deity is carefully stressed by Paul here. The Savior’s claim to deity infuriated the Jewish leaders (John 5:18) and caused them to accuse Him of blasphemy (John 10:33).

Though POSSESSING full deity (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9), Christ did not consider His equality with God as something to be held onto. Christ did not hesitate to set aside His self-willed use of deity when He became a man. As God He had all the rights of deity, and yet during His incarnation state He surrendered His right to manifest Himself visibly as the God of all splendor and glory.

Christ’s humiliation included His making Himself nothing, taking the very nature (form) of a servant, and being made in human likeness. These statements indicate that Christ became a man, a true human being. The Greek says that He “emptied Himself” which denotes a divesting of His self-interests, but not of His deity. The word “likeness” suggests similarity but difference. Though His humiliation was genuine, He was different from all other humans in that He was sinless (Hebrews 4:15).

Thus it is seen that Christ, while retaining the essence of God, was also human. In His incarnation He was FULLY God and FULLY man at the same time. He was God manifest in human flesh (John 1:14).

Some have wrongly taught that the phrase “being found in appearance as a man” means that He only LOOKED human. But this contradicts verse 7 which says that He literally by very NATURE was human also.

The condescension of Christ included not only His birth, but also His death. And it was the most cruel and despicable form of death which was limited to non Romans and the worst criminals.

No better example of humiliation and a selfless attitude for believers to follow could possibly be given than that of Christ. With this example before them, the saints at Philippi would be “like-minded” (as was used in Philippians 2:2) and live humbly before their God and each other.

So, since Christ who, if ANYONE has full right to Lord it over anybody else, truly DID have the right to be and act as if He was better than ALL…since He having this right did not take advantage of that right while He was here on earth…then what makes us any different? We are to follow Christ’s example in all things…even in His humility and His servant hood. He had full rights to glorify Himself and act better than all other humans, but instead He humbled Himself and became a servant, not lording His rights to deity over anyone. Now although we are not divine, we as children of God should never in thought or action consider ourselves to be better than others, if those others so prove to act and think in an ungodly manner. It’s a hard thing to do, to consider others as better than us no matter HOW they act…but it is something that God expects of us and it is something that Christ Himself did….so we must strive to be living examples of His humility.

Are Men Fools? (death of masculinity by feminist ideology)

Interesting information from a Focus on the Family newsletter I received in the mail months ago but decided to not throw away because i believe the things said are just so relevant for today. It’s gonna be long…but bear with me…and also please read it through….it’s gonna take long enough to type this all out by hand.

It is impossible to understand what is happening to our kids today, both male and female, without considering the influence of feminist ideology. Swirling out of it was an attack on the very essence of masculinity. Everything that had been associated with maleness was subjected to scorn. Men who clung to traditional roles and conservative attitudes were said to be too “macho.” If they foolishly tried to open doors for ladies or gave them their seats on subways, as their fathers had done, they wre called “male chauvinist pigs.” Women presented themselves as victims who were “not gonna take it anymore,” and men were said to be heartless oppressors who had abused and exploited womankind for centuries. Divorce skyrocketed as a surprising number of women simply packed up and left their husbands and children.

Although these early feminists called attention to some valid concerns that needed to be addressed, such as equal pay for work and discrimination in the workplace, they went far beyond legitimate grievances and began to rip and tear at the fabric of the family. By the time the storm had blown itself out, the institution of marriage had been shaken to its foundation, and masculinity itself was thrown back on its heels. It has never fully recovered.

Feminist Karla Mantilla summarized the philosophy behind it in an article entitled Kids Need ‘Fathers Like Fish Need Bicycles.” She wrote, “I submit that men tend to emphasize values such as discipline, power, control, stoicism, and independence. Sure there can be some good from these things, but they are mostly damaging to kids (and other living things). They certainly made my son suffer an isolated and tortured existence until he began to see that there was a way out of the trap of masculinity.”

The trap of masculinity? That is the way many feminists view maleness. A centerpiece of this hostility is seen in an ongoing effort to convince us that “Men are fools.” It claims that the majority of males are immature, impulsive, selfish, weak, and not very bright. It is interesting to note, for example, how disrespect for men pervades the entertainment industry, including many television commercials. The formula involves a beautiful woman (or a bevy of them) who is intelligent, sexy, admirable, and self assured. She encounters a slob of a man, usually in a bar, who is ignorant, balding, and overweight. The stupid guy quickly disgraces himself on screen, at which point the woman sneers and walks away.

So what is going on here? Is it possible that men, especially male beer drinkers and sports-car enthusiasts, actually like being depicted as dumb, horny, fat, nerdy, and ugly? Apparently they do. We also have to assume that guys are not offended when they are made the butt of a thousand jokes. But why? Women would not tolerate that kind of derision. Not in a million years would you see a corpulent, unattractive woman lusting after a good-looking man who shows disdain for her as she does something ridiculous.

Television sitcoms also blast away at traditional masculinity. There is not a single example of a healthy family depicted on network programming that includes a masculine guy who loves his kids and is respected by his wife. NONE!

Invariably, sitcoms today feature at least one gay or lesbian character, who is cast in a sympathetic role. One overriding goal of homosexual activists is to influence the next generation and to recruit children to their movement. How can impressionable boys and young men possibly discern what it means to be a heterosexual male, let alone a dedicate and disciplined husband and father, when this tripe is fed to them every night and when their own dads are nowhere to be found?

Roger Scruton, author of “Modern Manhood,” explained what is happening to perceptions of masculinity. “Feminists have snuffed out male pride wherever it has grown and ruthlessly uprooted it. Under their pressure, modern culture has downgraded or rejected such masculine virtues as courage, tenacity, and military prowess in favor of more gentle, more ‘socially inclusive’ habits.”

The bottom line is that many men have lost their compass. Not only do they not know who they are, they’re not sure what the culture expects them to be…It is time that men acted like men–being respectful, thoughtful and gentlemanly to women, but reacting with confidence, strength and certainty in manner. Some have wimped out, acting like whipped puppies. Others have boldly spoken out against feminist influence, refusing to be intimidated by the advocates of political correctness. Some have lashed out, reacting in anger and frustration. Some have flamed out, resorting to alcohol, drugs, illicit sex and other avenues of escape. Some have copped out, descending into mindless TV, professional sports and obsessive recreational activities. Some have sold out, becoming advocates of the new identity. Some have simply walked out, leaving their families in a lurch. Many, however, seem placidly unaware that they have lost their places in the culture. The result is a changing view of manhood with far-reaching implications for the future of the family.

Nations that are populated largely by immature, immoral, weak-willed, cowardly and self-indulgent men cannot and will not long endure. The presence of a father–or at least another responsible male role-model, is a critical component in the life of a boy. Without such influence, disastrous consequences–such as homosexuality–may follow.

The wrong-headed notion that children can thrive in a same-sex family (ie. an environment in which they are robbed of either a mother or a father) is just one more way that our culture is diminishing the natural, innate differences between the sexes and leaving boys confused about their masculinity. In light of this ongoing assault on men, we are left to ask, “What DOES true masculinity look like?”

Suffice it to say that the physiological and emotional characteristics of a typical male are dramatically and intrinsically different than those of the typical female. Males tend to be more aggressive, more assertive and more inclined to lead. When the male psyche functions as intended, it is sensitive to the needs of women and loving to children. The masculine temperament lends itself to two major responsibilities: to protect and to provide for the man’s family.

Despite the fact that men were designed by their Creator to fulfill these critical and unique roles, our culture remains resolute in its determination to strip away the very essence of what it means to be a man. If we leave it up to schools and media to teach young boys what it means to be real men, we will be subjecting them to potentially irreparable harm.

The Need To Be One

Ephesians 4:1-6 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

-Paul’s teachings were often a revolutionary concept to the Grecian world. This command to be humble was one of them. In Greece, only the slaves were expected to be humble…Grecians considered it a disgrace for someone to show humility…it was pride that was applauded in that culture.

-I find it interesting that in our culture today, pride is often lauded over humbleness, but it is “candy coated” by words such as “high self esteem”. But when you get down to the root of the problem…this concept of trying to increase one’s self esteem is just an excuse to be prideful and to think yourself better than others. It teaches people to learn to rely on themselves, and not others or even God.

-However, Paul says we need to be humble, lowly. After all we are to be like Christ and Christ did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life for us. We are all on equal footing before Christ…no one is considered greater than the other.

-Paul also urges Christians in this passage to be patient (long-suffering) and to be gentle (considerate toward others). What a revolutionary concept even in this culture today…to put others’ needs and feelings before our own! We are also to bear with one another in love, which essentially means we are to encourage each other and to carry each other through personal trials and suffering.

-Christians…we must protect our unity as Christians because Satan seeks to divide us. Satan uses one of the oldest war tactics in the book: divide and conquer. He attempts to create divisions among us, and when we are disunified we become weak and that’s when Satan comes in with the attack. You see, Satan knows that our potentialities are virtually endless when we are united as Christians under Christ. Our unity means power…and our power through the unity of Christ spells out defeat to the Enemy.

-It is the unity of God’s people which is a sign to the world of who Christ is. The more people united under one belief, the more “believable” our beliefs become to the world. Satan knows this and is doing everything he can to keep the body of Christ (the church) from being united by creating negative thoughts in the individual believers and a general sense of moral apathy and malaise within the churches. Satan suggests to individuals, “why bother going to church? Why bother ministering? It’s no use. People will just believe what they want to believe. Besides…you’re okay with God on your own. You don’t need to fellowship with other believers.” And then that person gives in to Satan’s suggestions and forsakes hearing the teachings in church…forsakes fellowship with other believers. Then that individual becomes divided from the rest of the body of Christ allowing Satan to attack that person through worldly influences.

-The same tactic is used on the church too. As long as churches continue to argue amongst themselves about petty issues, they will continue to be disunified which makes the church as a whole more vulnerable to Satanic attacks.

-Instead of giving into the disunity, the negative attitudes, and the feelings of moral and spiritual apathy, we Christians are to counterattack by stirring each other up toward love for each other and the lost. We are to speak good, encouraging words to each other and do good for one another as we see the coming of Christ nearing. When Christ returns to gather His church, we must be seen as blameless and righteous in His eyes…He gave His life up for us and labors our case daily before the Father…the least we can do is be peacemakers to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and to follow Christ and His commands to us.