Because Of An Oath

Herod-Antipas-56a149e13df78cf77269367a

Then an opportune day came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias’ daughter herself came in and danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the girl, “Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you.” He also swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” So she went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist!” Immediately she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent an executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him in prison, brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took away his corpse and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6:21-29)

Because Of An Oath

Herod Antipas was an immoral, superstitious and cruel man who had no value for life allowing himself to be seduced by his step-daughter. He was the same character as Ahab of old and served the strong-willed temptress of his illegitimate wife Herodias. While in Rome he had seduced his half-brother Phillip’s wife (who was also his niece) and John the Baptist had condemned him because of it. Angered by the accusations of John, Herodias connived to have Herod arrest John and keep him in prison. During a feast for his birthday, Salome came and danced in a lascivious and wanton manner that pleased all the nobles, high officers and chief men of Galilee. Herod declared he would give half his kingdom to his great-niece if she would but ask. Rushing to her mother’s side, she asked what gift she would seek. Herodias knew at once Herod would not resist her request and asked for the head of John the Baptist. In league with the wickedness of her mother, Salome returns to Herod demanding the head of John.

Herod is hesitant to grant the wish of Salome and regrets the promise he made. As king he could make any decision and there would be no argument. He carries a high hand of authority over Galilee and has used that power to carry out his will upon the people often in cruel ways. But now cornered with the flirtations of a beautiful young woman and the pressure of those gathered for his birthday, he orders the execution of John the Baptist. He made an oath but the consequence was the murder of a righteous man. The peer pressure of those gathered that day forced his hand to make a decision that would define his legacy. How could he refuse and keep face with his noble friends and fellow rulers? The chief men of Galilee would see him as a weak king and he could lose his position. His father Herod the Great had ruled with a cruel hand killing all the young children in Bethlehem, seeking the young child Jesus. Beheading John the Baptist would show him to be a strong king. Orders were given and the head of John was brought to Herod who gave the gruesome trophy to Salome. She then carried the still warm and bleeding head to her mother who bask in the final victory over her accuser. Herodias would suffer the same fate as Herod when Caligula banished them to exile where they died in misery.

Because of an oath, John the Baptist was beheaded. It is not surprising Herod would fall prey to the allurements of an evil woman and bring about the death of a righteous man. His relationship with Phillip’s wife was immoral and he had no pangs to further his deeds of evil in killing John. The great tragedy of John’s death is it came because of a decadent promise. Pride would not allow Herod to change his mind. Many a failed decision has been made because a man or woman refused to stand for truth and bowed to the pressure of others. What Herod did is repeated on a daily basis. Refusing to lose face in front of friends has led to many decisions with life-long consequences. Being like the crowd, going with the crowd, bowing to the pressures of the crowd – can lead to fornication, theft, lying and sometimes more tragic consequences. The first lesson is never making a promise that is not a righteous one. Second, when a promise is made that was made in error, stand for truth suffering the ridicule of friends rather than the condemnation of God. Friends will come and go but the Lord God will never acquit the actions of sin when bowing to peer pressure. Never allow the allurements of someone else cause you to do something that you will regret for the rest of your life – and impact your eternal destiny. Stand for righteousness and you will never fear the ground you stand upon.

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Man Is Not The Smartest Animal

stork white Israel

Even the stork in the heavens knows her appointed times; and the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow observe the time of their coming. But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord. (Jeremiah 8:7)

Man Is Not The Smartest Animal

It was a sad and tragic time for God’s people. The apple of His eye had turned their backs on Him and the Lord lamented the punishment He would bring upon them for disobedience. Many prophets came to the nation seeking to turn the hearts of the people back to the Lord but to no avail. Israel continued in a downward spiral of wickedness and rebellion drawing closer to the final judgment of God upon them. There would be no heeding the dire warnings of the prophets. All of the pestilence sent by the hand of the Lord did not change the hearts of the people. Doom overshadowed the special people of God and they seemed to give little heed or concern. Jeremiah pleaded with his fellow countrymen to change the course of their hearts. The condition was so dreadful the prophet remarked that the animals had more sense than God’s people.

Comparing a flock of birds to the people of God was an obvious condemnation to the depth of Israel’s depravity. Migratory birds live according to the natural laws instilled in them by their creator. “The instinct of the migratory birds leads them with unfailing regularity to return every spring from their winter abodes in summer climes (Song of Solomon 2:12); but God’s people will not return to Him even when the winter of His wrath is past, and He invites them back to the spring of His favor” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary). Isaiah had used the ox and the donkey as an example of how they knew their master’s care for them and yet Israel did not know the Lord. Animals act in a more dedicated manner than the one creation who is a free moral agent. Man has the ability to choose his destiny yet fails miserably to heed the grace and love of his Maker. The animals trust in their Creator. They do not worry like man does. The sparrows of the field are provided for by their Maker and they are content.

Jeremiah’s comparison was not a flattering commentary on the plight of man’s rebellion against the will of God. The animals of the world have no free moral agency yet they have greater faith in the Creator than the one who has dominion over them. How sad that man cannot trust in the Lord with greater faith when he was made a little lower than the angels and received the gift of God in the form of the crucified Christ. Jesus did not die for the animals of the world. He gave His life for men because they can be saved if they are willing. Taking time to look at the animals of the world and see how they are provided for and trust in the care of their Maker should remind the creature made in the image of God to serve Him in faith. Man is eternal; animals are not. God sent His Son to show men His love and to know of His judgment. Sadly, like the days of Jeremiah, most men do not know the Lord or believe in His word.

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What I Miss When I Do Not Attend

Empty Pews

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24)

What I Miss When I Do Not Attend

Worship has always been a part of the relationship between man and God. Cain and Abel brought offerings to the Lord, Abram built altars to honor his God, Melchizedek was a High Priest serving under the will of the Lord and Moses gave the Hebrews a law filled with exhortations on true worship. In Christ worship is a precious remembrance of the sacrifice of the Father to send His Son for the sins of all men. The death of Jesus abolished the Law of Moses and gained an entrance for the Gentiles to enjoy the blessings of all men coming to God as one people. Only in the name of Jesus Christ would salvation be offered to the world.

The pattern of worship in the early church was a simple plan of God for His people to gather as one in the fellowship of how each person could exhort and admonish one another. They would sing together with voices blended in speaking to one another through hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. Examining the scriptures would be a time of faith building as they studied together and learned from one another. Remembering the sacrifice of Christ highlighted the service as the supper was taken of the bread and fruit of the vine. Paul reminded the Corinthians of the necessity of obeying the word of Christ to remember Him in a manner of reverence. Bonding the hearts together in worship came from prayers lifted to the Father in thanksgiving, praise, honor and glory. The New Testament church established a weekly observance of worship.

Through the centuries methods have changed in carrying out the first day of the week worship. The scriptures teach assembling on the first day of the week is a command. Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, Hebrews 10:24-25 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 are examples of the command to gather on the first day of the week. It must be especially noted that if a person does not assemble for the Lord’s Supper they cannot take of it in a worthy manner bringing severe judgment from the Lord. Whether this command is carried out one time on Sunday or multiple times is left to man to decide as long as the word of God is followed in assembling on the first day of the week. In our modern world of easy transportation, electricity and comforts of prosperity, many churches meet multiple times on Sunday and during the week. The buildings are adequate to allow worship to be carried out with ease. For most people, travel to and from the places of worship are also with great simplicity.

With all the comforts of a modern world and convenience of more time on our hands, many saints only come to one service during the week. Sunday morning worship is routinely a larger crowd than Bible class and evening services. There are exceptions to some who are unable to attend more services than one (distance, darkness, well-being, etc.). What is sad to see are swelling numbers on Sunday morning dwindling down 40% or more when the evening service comes or mid-week studies. Because of this many churches are cancelling services in the evening. What do people miss when they do not attend the services?

They miss the fellowship of other saints. Many churches are filled with people who do not know one another because they seldom spend time getting to know their brethren. In part this comes from seldom or infrequently coming to services. Even coming to the Sunday morning service alone makes it very difficult to build a relationship with another person. Those who do not to attend will never enjoy the close relationship that begins in worship and blossoms into relationships in life. Those who miss the services do not enjoy the blessings of Hebrews 10:24 – “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” See also Colossians 3:16.

Those who do not attend the services do not grow in faith with their fellow saints. Bible classes and preaching are vital parts of the work of the Lord but when the services are neglected, faith dwindles. Self-study is important and an answer can be given that personal studies are done but where is the discussion, the examination, the challenge of iron striking iron (Proverbs 27:17)? Families with children who seldom bring them to Bible studies realize much too late their children have little interest in the Lord. Teachers prepare great lessons for their students only to see them attend sporadically. Children have a funny way of growing up and becoming just like us – no matter how hard we try to teach them different. They learn more by our example than our words.

Failing to assemble with the saints makes a statement to the community. My life is an open book to my neighbors and friends and when church services are not important enough to attend – they see my faith. I miss the opportunity to let my light shine to others. Our lives may be the only Bible some folk will read and what a great impact I can have on others when I show my faith by my works (James 2:14-26).

The growth of a local congregation comes from what everyone puts into the effort. Paul explained church growth in Ephesians 4:16 when he writes, “From whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” If the members of a local congregation are not engaged enough to be an active part of the work, what is the message they are sending? The whole body must be joined together. It must be knit together. Each person must do their part to create an effective work in the local congregation. When members do not find enough interest to meet but the minimum requirements of the law the church struggles to grow.

Maybe it is time for the Lord to take away the work of the church from the soft-peddled Americans who have every comfort and convenience to worship and give it to a people who are not burdened with the blessings of prosperity. Folks in Nicaragua sit in buildings without air-conditioning on plastic chairs and dim lights and have little to complain about. Churches in South Africa meet under a tree allowing the shade to be their only relief from the sun. Saints in Bulgaria gather in a small apartment with little fanfare and lift their voices to God in praise. What will we tell Abraham, Moses, David and the Apostles of the glory days of the Kingdom and all the opportunities we had to worship together under the banner of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and we complained and fussed about having to do so much and go so far and stay so long and … ? Sad isn’t it? Jesus died on a wooden cross and we complain about splinters.

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Developing A Spirit To Endure

Running in the country

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-11)

Developing A Spirit To Endure

Running a race requires the will to carry through the inevitable pain and suffering to the end. There is a need to have the staying power of pushing ahead mile after mile overcoming each obstacle with a resolve to finish the race. Those who run in marathons spend years developing their bodies to endure the punishing abuse the body will take during the long hours and difficult course. For most it is not about winning the race. Victory comes in crossing the finish line. The beginning of the marathon is where there is a lot of hope and energy as people rush forward excited about the race. In time, some begin to slow down as the energy diminishes but they carry on. As the hours pass, the line of runners stretches out further from one another as some fall back and some drop out. The champion is crowned who crossed the line first but the greater victors are those who kept moving forward step after painful step and in the fading darkness of the day stretch forth and crossed the finish line. They persevered and won the victory. It was not about the crown for the swift but the reward of finishing.

The Christian race is little different than running a marathon. Those who have begun the race have put on Christ in obedience to His word and enjoy the spiritual blessings of the Father. There is a lot of excitement and hope as the new born child bursts forth in life running with the joy of salvation. Hope fills the heart with the grace of God. Energy is high. Time begins to wear on the life of the Christian and the soul begins to face the pounding of daily living. Facing the onslaught of the hosts of wickedness, faith is put to the test. The lessons of virtue, knowledge and self-control begin to strain under the weight of temptation and spiritual fatigue. Peter shows that with all of these great examples of character so vital to the growth of the Christian, perseverance is the key ingredient that keeps the focus of the race before the mind of the child of God to keep pressing forward.

Adding perseverance to self-control (including virtue and knowledge) is the vitamin of a heroic, brave patience that bears up under any trial. The word means something like “remaining under” and contending daily without stopping. Knowledge will have little use if there is not a willingness to submit to the divine will of God and endure the trials of life with courage. Perseverance is the moral discipline to put one foot in front of the other without looking to the left or right but keeping the eyes clearly set on eternal life. It involves the trials of life and the strain of running a long race. For the Christian, there is no question where each day will take them. Satan seeks to discourage and if he is successful will cause the Christian to stop running. For those who have run the race, they know the pain involved and the temptation to give up. Faith does not allow them to quit but to fight through the pain and keep running. Steadfastness is necessary to run the Christian race. It requires a resolute mind, committed and dedicated to serving the Lord. Paul reminds us running this race is not about the swift but about those who finish. Keep on running. Never, never give up. Heaven awaits.

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Serving In A Trusted Office

gatekeeper

And the gatekeepers were Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their brethren. Shallum was the chief. Until then they had been gatekeepers for the camps of the children of Levi at the King’s Gate on the east. Shallum the son of Kore, the son of Ebiasaph, the son of Korah, and his brethren, from his father’s house, the Korahites, were in charge of the work of the service, gatekeepers of the tabernacle. Their fathers had been keepers of the entrance to the camp of the Lord. And Phinehas the son of Eleazar had been the officer over them in time past; the Lord was with him. Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was keeper of the door of the tabernacle of meeting. All those chosen as gatekeepers were two hundred and twelve. They were recorded by their genealogy, in their villages. David and Samuel the seer had appointed them to their trusted office. So they and their children were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, the house of the tabernacle, by assignment. The gatekeepers were assigned to the four directions: the east, west, north, and south. And their brethren in their villages had to come with them from time to time for seven days. For in this trusted office were four chief gatekeepers; they were Levites. And they had charge over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God. And they lodged all around the house of God because they had the responsibility, and they were in charge of opening it every morning. Now some of them were in charge of the serving vessels, for they brought them in and took them out by count. Some of them were appointed over the furnishings and over all the implements of the sanctuary, and over the fine flour and the wine and the oil and the incense and the spices. And some of the sons of the priests made the ointment of the spices. Mattithiah of the Levites, the firstborn of Shallum the Korahite, had the trusted office over the things that were baked in the pans. And some of their brethren of the sons of the Kohathites were in charge of preparing the showbread for every Sabbath. These are the singers, heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites, who lodged in the chambers, and were free from other duties; for they were employed in that work day and night. (1 Chronicles 9:17-33)

Serving In A Trusted Office

The logistics of the Law of Moses was an incredible achievement to carry out. Beginning at Sinai with the construction of the Tabernacle and all of the requirements implemented by the Lord continuing through the building of the Temple by Solomon, there were major and minor parts of the services that had to be carried out daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. Only certain people were allowed to care for the Tabernacle as it journeyed throughout the wilderness. Responsibility and care of the Tabernacle was given to the tribe of Levi. The family of Kohath oversaw the assembling and disassembling of the Tent of Meeting. When the people came into the land of promise, the Tabernacle was set up in Shiloh and the tribe of Levi ministered daily for the worship prescribed by God. Many years later when the Temple was finished under the leadership of Solomon, responsibility moved to caring for the furnishings and work of the House of God. This would require legions of servants in various places doing their work as proficient as possible. Among these servants were the gatekeepers.

Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their brethren had a very important job to do. Their names may be hard to pronounce but the Holy Spirit impresses upon the pages of holy writ the work of being a gatekeeper was a trusted office. It was more than opening and closing the gates for the two hundred and twelve men that served in this place. There was a lot of responsibility in the position of being a gatekeeper. The work to be carried out was to maintain the integrity of God’s word. It may not have been the glorious work of being a High Priest or even serving as a priest within the walls of the Temple but there was little doubt the Lord had given special instructions to those who kept the gates and He expected those servants to do the best they could do. They served in an office of trust overseeing the chambers and treasuries of the house of God. The scripture says they had the responsibility and they were in charge of opening the house of God every morning. Someone had to do that job and God assigned them to this task. It was an office of trust.

The New Testament church finds a lot of gatekeepers in its midst. Not everyone could be an apostle. Elders were selected among the early Christians serving with distinction as shepherds of the flock watching out for the souls of the people of God. Deacons and preachers served in their capacities and stories of Peter, Paul, Silas, Barnabas and Timothy fill the pages of the book of Acts. But there were a lot of people doing the important work of opening their homes for the saints to meet in, feeding the hungry, sharing their garments and tunics made from loving hands, teaching and encouraging the downtrodden. Being a gatekeeper under the Law was an office of trust. There are many things to be done in the church and the Lord sees each one as a work of trust. He implemented the positions of the Law of Moses to show a pattern of how important the work of serving Him would be reflected in the kingdom of His Son. The church is in need of all those who will take up the mantle of faith to do whatever the Lord needs in whatever capacity they can be used.

Not everyone can be in the place of an elder or preacher. Some of the most important work of the Lord is done away from the church building. Visiting the sick is being a gatekeeper. Writing notes and making phone calls keeps the gates open. Having families in the home to increase fellowship genders spiritual growth within the local congregation. Setting up Bible studies with friends and neighbors is being a gatekeeper. The Lord told Shallum, Akkub, Talmon, Ahiman, and their brethren they had a trusted office to keep. His word reminds us all that we have a part to play in the work of the Lord. Each one of us has been entrusted to carry out a part of the work that forms the whole of the local congregation spreading the news of Jesus Christ. Everything we do is important as the effective working by which every member does what they can do – because we all have a trusted office. This will bring growth of the body for the edification of itself in love. The Lord is depending on you and me. Let’s do the best we can do.

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There Is A Generation

scroll ot scroll

There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. There are those—how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind. (Proverbs 30:11-14)

There Is A Generation

Agur is not a well-known Bible character. He was the son of Jakeh and his writings are found in the book of Proverbs. He declares to Ithiel and Ucal that he is not a very smart man but he wants to write some words that are on his heart. His humble spirit is evident when he considers how great the Lord has manifested Himself. The word of God is pure and Agur knows the power contained in the wisdom of the Lord. He did not want much in life so that he could live simply before the Lord and serve Him. His observation of the youth of his day is startling but familiar. Children curse their fathers and mothers and live in the “me, me, me” world of selfishness. The world revolves around their every desire and with the expectation of getting anything they want, like wolves they devour those who stand against them. His generation turned away from the Lord living for their own needs to be fulfilled in fleshly pleasure. Sound familiar?

The amazing part of history is how often generations repeat themselves. There is a misguided notion that each generation improves on the last and with more technology and wisdom man gets smarter. Sadly that is not the way of men. Agur wrote his proverbs nearly three thousand years ago but his observations can be put in many generations including the present. More and more the family is becoming a dysfunctional haven of spoiled children who disrespect parents, believe the world owes them everything and rush through life drinking every drop of self-gratification and pleasure they can find. The Holy Spirit kept the writings of Agur for a reason. It shows how that man needs God and every generation fights the same battles; just a different kind under different circumstances.

Finding the views of Agur familiar with the problems faced today, the solution remains the same. The great message of the ancient writings of the Old Testament is the power of the word of God for all men in every generation. Families faced a crisis of identity in the days of Agur and they face the same problems today. The only way to resolve the issues of the family is to allow the Lord to guide the home, train the children and build a better community. Men change little and the word of God never changes. The family was created as a place of safety, peace and where the Lord was to be the central hope. Sin destroys that harmony. What Agur wrote about can be laid at the feet of parents who fail to bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. The reason children become rebellious is because they are allowed to be rebellious. There are exceptions to the rule of children who leave the wisdom of the parents because they are free to make moral decisions that are sinful. By and large many homes are filled with cursing, selfish children because parents have spoiled, coddled, pampered and created the storm they witness in their family. Teaching children to love, respect and honor the Lord will instill in them a love for family. Parents are heard to say they want to give their children all the things they never had growing up and failing to give them the one thing they were given – a love for the Lord. The words of Agur still ring loudly in our generation. There is a need for families to build their homes upon the word of God. If the Bible is not the center of the home, the framework of the family will be destroyed. Listen to the words of Agur. Do not allow this generation to repeat the mistakes of the past.

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Dealing With The Devil

It-is-Written-Sermon-Series-Idea

Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give his angels charge over you,’ and, in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:3-10)

Dealing With The Devil

Temptation is the common lot of all men and Jesus would be no exception. Satan knew who Jesus of Nazareth was and he fully intended on doing his best to destroy the Son of God. For thirty years the devil threw everything he had at Jesus with the temptations all men must face. As the Lord began His ministry Satan approached the weakened Jesus to offer Him an easy path to glory. First, he tempted Jesus with the physical needs of hunger but to no avail. The devil turns to scripture to lure the Son of God to test His Father’s will but again ending in failure. Finally the great deceiver offers Jesus a shortcut to glory without the price of the cross and is abruptly rebuked and told to leave. Facing each temptation Jesus followed a simple plan: He appealed to the word of His Father. He did not rely on His own wisdom or His own ability to dissuade the appealing songs of Satan’s lures. Each provocation by the devil was met with a firm, “It is written.”

There are many lessons to learn from this story. If the devil will tempt the Son of God then why should we think he will not come after us with greater temptations? The most important lesson to learn is the only way to deal with temptation is to be familiar with the words of God. Without His word in our hearts there is an open door for the devil to bring us down. Vance Havner said, “Jesus met the devil not in His own name, not in His own power, but with the Scriptures: ‘It is written … it is written …’ If He could defeat the devil with three verses out of Deuteronomy, we ought to be able to do it with the whole Bible.” There is a point to be made. Knowledge is power and with this power we are able to discern between good and evil. Faith comes from hearing and hearing must come from the word of God. The level of faith is proportionate to our knowledge. If we are not actively seeking the word of God in our daily life we are inviting the devil to find his way in our lives.

More often than not we try to deal with temptation by our own wisdom. Bible study is a rarity and knowing anything about the Bible is more common in the lives of God’s people. Like the days of Hosea the people of God are being destroyed for lack of knowledge. Satan does not have to tempt us with great sins that will destroy us. He simply tempts us with the leisure approach to life that is busy about so many things that time with God’s word is seldom found. The church is filling with hearts that know little about scripture and finding their faith as weak as water. This is a ripe harvest for Satan as he turns the souls of saints away from the Lord. We cannot defeat temptation with “It is written” if we do not know what is written. The result is that we are lulled into a false sense of security as the siren song of the devil’s melody soothes our souls to destruction.

Learning the word of God takes time and energy. It requires the courage to face our failures for not knowing what we should about the Bible. The Lord did not give us a book that we cannot understand. A lifetime of study will not glean every morsel of truth from this great book but the more we spend time in the word the more powerful our lives will become. Satan’s greatest victory is to keep God’s people ignorant. The greatest victory the child of God can have is to stand boldly before the great deceiver and say, “It is written” because I know what is written. There can be no other way to deal with the devil. He is bound to hell fire and he is trying desperately to take every child of God he can find with him. Let him go alone. Take the sword of the Spirit and slay every temptation the devil throws at you with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If Jesus can defeat Satan with three verses then we should throw the whole book at him. Now – go open your Bible and get busy learning about God.

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