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Sunday, April 22, 2018

How Much Room is Satan Allowed in Believers' Lives?

How Much Room is Satan Allowed in Believer's Lives?

Let’s start by admitting that this question is not directly addressed in Scripture so we must piece together what Scripture says to come to a conclusion. 

First, let’s look at God’s wonderful promises for protection against Satan:

1. We know that Jesus in us is greater than Satan in the world.

1 John 4:1-6: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

2. God promises protection from Satan. 

2 Thessalonians 3:3: But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

3. God has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness.

Colossians 1:13: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…

But we must also consider what Scripture says about our role in staying under God’s protection. 

We are called to resist Satan in these ways: 

1. Genuinely repenting of our sins.

James 4:7-8: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 

How Much Room is Satan Allowed in Believer's Lives?
2. Being alert and sober minded, standing firm in our faith.

1 Peter 5:8-9: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 

3. Forgiving others.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11: Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 

4. Dealing with our anger in a timely fashion.

Ephesians 4:26-27: “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

5. Putting on the full armor of God.

Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

6.  Separating ourselves from pagan and occult influences and involvement.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 

  Acts 19 records the immediate response of new Christians to their past connection with occult influences.

Acts 19:19: A number of [new believers] who had been practicing sorcery brought their incantation books and burned them at a public bonfire. The value of the books was several million dollars. 

We must also admit that there is some mystery involved in the ways God allows Satan to act in the lives of His children. 

We can trust that God only allows what is best for us, but we see two examples that also should be part of our discussion: 

How Much Room is Satan Allowed in Believer's Lives?
1. God allowed Satan to test Job in some dramatic ways.
This link will allow you to read the first chapter, but the whole book impacts our discussion. 

Job 1

2. God gave Paul a “thorn in his flesh” described as a “messenger of Satan” sent to torment him and keep him from becoming conceited.

2 Corinthians 12:6-10: Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

No one can fully understand how Satan impacts the lives of believers, but we can trust God is good and He will not allow us to be tested beyond our ability to resist (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

He will provide whatever we need to live godly lives. 

2 Peter 1:3: His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  

Read more on Paul's condition: Got Questions: What Was Paul's Thorn? 

My conclusion: Perhaps a Christian cannot be possessed by a demon. I would like to think they cannot. But I don't think Scripture provides enough information for us to know what is possible beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, I wonder if we aren't spending too much time on things Scripture doesn't make clear and ignoring the clear warnings of Scripture. Our emphasis should be resisting Satan and separating ourselves from pagan and occult influences.

2 other resources on demon-possession:

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer of Moody Church explains that the original languages of Scripture don’t talk of anyone being “possessed” by a demon. However, he believes Scripture gives us reason to think Christians can give Satan an internal foothold in their lives. “While an internal foothold is an infrequent situation, it can be resolved by the reclamation of these places, affirming the authority of Christ over all evil spirits.”

Got Questions explains that “a demon cannot inhabit or take full control of a Christian. Demonic influence and oppression are realities for Christians, no doubt, but it is simply not biblical to say that a Christian can be possessed by a demon or demonized.” 

copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, April 15, 2018

How Does God Speak Today?

Does God Still Speak in Dreams and Visions?

In the Old and New Testaments, God spoke in dreams and visions. 

Does He still do that today? 

Short answer: God does whatever He wants. 

He can and does use dreams and visions today, but not as often as in early church history. 

Why? 

1. The Bible is complete and it is an indisputable source of truth.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17  

2. God typically used dreams and visions to speak to prophets and apostles so they could transmit His truth to His people. Those messages became part of Scripture. Now, leaders, teachers, and pastors transmit God’s message by teaching Scripture. 
See Romans 15:4 and Hebrews 4:12.

3. When God speaks today in dreams or visions, it’s for specific instruction, guidance, warning, or encouragement for an individual, group, or church. It's not Scripture (not meant for the Body of Christ as a whole) and should be cautiously tested.(1) 
See Acts 10:1-15.(2) 
-------------------
(1) 1 Corinthians 14:29 speaks of prophecy in general, but it would apply to dreams and visions as well. 
(2) This passage gives an example of two types of visions: The first given to an individual for his specific situation, the second given to an apostle for instruction to the whole Body of Christ. The first is a type of vision that may happen today. The second is a type of vision that ended when Scripture was completed.


Bible Study

Does God Still Speak in Dreams and Visions?

1. We must realize that there are false visions as well as legitimate visions.

Where do false dreams and visions originate?

Jeremiah 23:16-18: This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 17 They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ 18 But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? 

Verse 18 is key. Now that Scripture is complete, our most reliable source of information is God's Word. 

Ezekiel 13:1-9: Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the false prophets of Israel who are inventing their own prophecies. Say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord. 3 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all!’ ... 6 Instead, they have told lies and made false predictions. They say, ‘This message is from the Lord,’ even though the Lord never sent them. And yet they expect him to fulfill their prophecies! 7 Can your visions be anything but false if you claim, ‘This message is from the Lord,’ when I have not even spoken to you? 8 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because what you say is false and your visions are a lie, I will stand against you, says the Sovereign Lord. 9 I will raise my fist against all the prophets who see false visions and make lying predictions, and they will be banished from the community of Israel.

2. Look at each of these dreams or visions and note the purpose and meaning. 

Which were for individual or group guidance? Which were messages for all of God’s people, part of God’s unfolding message of Scripture? 

Does God Still Speak in Dreams and Visions?
Abraham : Genesis 15:1-16

Abimelech: Genesis 20:1-7 

Jacob: Genesis 28:10-17 

Joseph: Genesis 37:1-11 

Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker: Genesis 40 

Pharaoh: Genesis 41 

Samuel : 1 Samuel 3 

The Midianite and Amalekite armies: Judges 7:12-15 

Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14

Nebuchadnezzar: Daniel 2; 4 

New Testament Dreams and Visions 

Zacharias: Luke 1:5-23 

Joseph: Matthew 1:20-24; 2:13 

Pilate's wife: Matthew 27:19 

Ananias: Acts 9:10-15

Cornelius Acts 10:1-6 

Peter : Acts 10:9-15 

Paul: Acts 16:9-10, Acts 18:9-11, 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 

John: Revelation 1

If you want to “cheat” and read a synopsis of each dream and vision, check out Got Questions: Dreams & Visions.

copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, March 25, 2018

One Day We'll Know the Rest of the Stories

So Many Wonderful, Intriguing God Stories in Matthew 27

I love stories about God’s intervention in people’s lives, whether dramatic or simple.  I imagine we’ll hear some wonderful stories in heaven. 

 For example:  

1. Did Pilate’s wife, who had a dream about Christ’s innocence, later give her life to Him?  

Matthew 27:19: Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: "Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night." 

2. How many who yelled “Crucify Him! His blood is on us and on our children!” later were saved by that precious blood?

Matthew 27:24-25: When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”  

3. How many soldiers who fell to their knees mocking Jesus later fell to their knees proclaiming Him Savior? 

Matthew 27:28-29: They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.
 
So Many Wonderful, Intriguing God Stories in Matthew 27 4. How many who beat and crucified Christ later were healed by His stripes and forgiven by His crucifixion? 

Verse 54 gives a hint: Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"  

5. Barabbas was pardoned instead of Christ. Did he ever accept Christ's eternal pardon?

Matthew 27:16-26:
verse 20: But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. verse 26: But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

6. Simon of Cyrene took up Christ’s cross and followed Him on the road to Golgotha.

Did he ever take up his Cross and follow Christ spiritually? 

Matthew 27:32: As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.   

A single day in history, a single chapter in Scripture, and so many God stories that will one day thrill our hearts.

https://biblelovenotes.blogspot.com/2017/09/let-god-write-your-story.html

Take some time this coming week to remember all the God stories in your family. You might enjoy reading this 1-minute devotion: Let God Write Your Story.


https://biblelovenotes.blogspot.com/2013/03/prophetic-whispers.html

Have you recognized the foreshadowing of Christ in the person of Moses?  This 1-minute devotion gives a glimpse: Prophetic Whispers.  



copyright 2018, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com