by Nancy Gentry
The Devil himself is a believer. He goes to Church, and quotes Scripture … but he is not going to be enjoying the glories of Heaven throughout eternity. He threw it away because, in all his God-given intelligence and power, he let himself become filled with pride in “his” abilities and rebelled against the One Who is in control, the great I AM. God possesses all knowledge (He is Omniscient), has all power (He is Omnipotent), and is everywhere at all times (He is Omnipresent). If Lucifer, as the most beautiful and powerful of God’s created beings and with the assistance of a third of the angels, could not defeat God, I wonder why so many individuals think they won’t have to answer to a holy God Who has clearly expressed what He demands of His created beings. Not only did He create us but He paid the price to buy us back from the fallen condition that Adam’s sin condemned us to.
In our twice-daily Bible studies at our three shelters, we seek to inform and warn our residents of the purity and holiness required of those who wish to escape the torments of hell. Instead of that dismal prospect, they have the opportunity to spend “forever after” in a place of joy and wonder prepared for those who believe Jesus is God, that only through Him and by His forgiveness can they hope to reach Heaven, and who invite Him to take up residence within their being.
Once that transaction is made (it is called salvation, or spiritual birth) there begins a process of learning and growing. When babies are born, they need to be fed, protected, and cared for. Each new believer is responsible for the feeding of our “baby” spirit by spending time reading the Bible which contains the inerrant information our Creator wants us to have. It is God’s Word, also called, the Holy Scriptures. As we grow, our spirit needs not only to be fed but to be protected from the world by staying away from people and places that would tempt us to go astray.
As a former actress, I think of the Bible as my script in the drama (and sometimes, comedy) of life. As long as I follow God’s Script(ure), I am blessed (James 1:25). If I disobey my Heavenly Father I can only expect to be chastised. He brings godly sorrow into my life and that produces repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance is a change in direction, from self-will (going the way of the world) to following God’s will.
When producing a play the actors must follow the script accurately to get the playwright's message across. What chaos if they decide to act on their own whims, dress in inappropriate costumes for the part they are supposed to be enacting, and add to or subtract from their lines. Actors who do things their way, rather than following the script and the director’s instructions, do not keep their position (unless they repent) nor are able to find another.
If we just read or hear God’s Word but do not put it into practice (act on it—obey it) we deceive ourselves (James 1:22) if we think we are producing the good “fruit” that pleases our Creator and Judge. We need to stay in the Word; read it, memorize it, meditate on it, and put it into practice in our day-to-day lives.
One of Satan’s favorite ways to sidetrack people is by offense. He is “fishing for men” just as followers of Christ are to be doing. When he finds someone who is a bit out of sorts he dangles his bait in front of them. If they think their “Christianity” is in good shape and are not “taking heed lest they fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12), they will “swallow” an offense instead of praying for the offender and “turning the other cheek.”
As a matter of fact, this happened to me recently. My dear husband said something to me that I interpreted one way when he assured me he was only joking. I had needlessly but wholeheartedly “swallowed” what I took for an offense, and, failing to follow God’s script, was furiously angry with him. When we got to Bible study that morning almost everyone around us knew there was a problem. (I later had to ask forgiveness of them, and my husband, and, of course, God.) Knowing that when we regard (hold on to) sin in our heart, God will not hear our prayer (Psalm 66:18), I could not even ask God to bless the food that day when I took two of our volunteers out for lunch.) My anger seemed to dump poison into my system and I was ill for the next several days. What a lesson for me to learn—again. I sincerely hope I never again succumb to that temptation.
Matthew 18:7 says, “...it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.” Luke 17:1, 3 repeats that but also instructs us, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”
If someone says or does something to offend, the right thing to do is explain in a loving way the offense, then leave it with them as their problem. They will have to answer to God for it.
As we interact with others it is very important to remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, ”And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” We must ask ourselves, “How am I treating Jesus?” The answer is, I am treating Him the way I am treating others. As Matthew 7:12 instructs, we should be treating others the way we want to be treated.
In order to be a doer of God’s word we must resist, resist, resist, resist the devil (James 4:7) and he will eventually flee from us because we are just no fun. He is persistent so we must match his persistence with our resistance.
We may think we can’t help getting offended, BUT GOD, let’s us know through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ. Psalm 119:165 assures us that those who love God’s law shall not be offended. God is greater than any offense, any enemy, any craving, or any temptation that we face. We must choose to trust and obey. That is a sign of a Heaven-bound believer.